I was sick a few weeks ago, just a 24-hour thing. I took the day off from work and spent it watching British holiday films, of which there are a surprising amount. I seem to own most of them, despite not liking holiday movies most of the time. So I thought this would be a great Christmas post. Here are my favorites:
I’m hoping you knew this one would be on the list. How could it not? First of all, let’s consider the cast. Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy, and Rowan Atkinson. Also, not even listed on their little poster is Martin Freeman and Joanna Page. Yes please! I love so many of these actors. Not to mention that I love them together. Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman were together in Sense and Sensibility; Hugh Grant and Colin Firth were in both Bridget Jones films. They work well together and its lovely to see them in the same film. This movie isn’t perfect. All of the interrelated characters are sort of vaguely coexisting, but the bonds and relationships between them are too tenuous and unimportant to make a really cohesive whole. And the part I really dislike is when Colin goes to America–to Wisconsin of all places–and encounters some sort of mythical America that does not and has never existed. American women do, undoubtedly, enjoy British accents. I know this first-hand. But Denise Richards, January Jones, Eliza Cuthbert, and Shannon Elizabeth don’t all share a bed in a house in Wisconsin. Sorry, men. That is not reality. But, leaving that bit alone, everything else is wonderful. Hugh Grant dancing around No 10 Downing Street? priceless.
Colin Firth speaking broken Portuguese and receiving broken English answers to his proposal? Adorable. Martin Freeman doing anything at all? Yes. Love this movie. Makes me feel all happy and warm inside, like a great pair of fuzzy socks.
Bridget Jones’ Diary
I loved this book and I love the movie too. It takes place over the course of an entire year, so it is not a Christmas movie in the traditional sense. More of a Rom-Com with Christmas at its beginning and end. But there is something delightfully Christmas-y about the entire thing. The book is based roughly on Pride and Prejudice, so the fact that they got Colin Firth (the definitive Mr. Darcy) to play Mark Darcy is fabulous. Especially because we get to see him like this:
This is a very goofy film, and Bridget is no match for Lizzy Bennet. Still, she is endearing and real, and that is always reassuring around Christmas time, when your pants are a little tighter and all of the food is so inviting.
Here’s the problem with the Holiday: When people ask me if I like it (as happens constantly in my life) I don’t know what to say. It’s clear to me that the movie was written by and for people who have never had a single real problem in their lives. The two main characters, played by Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, are desperately unhappy with their lives. Kate is stuck in one of those drawn-out unrequited love stories where you just can’t get over the person who broke your heart. Cameron Diaz is a workaholic who acts like her parents getting divorced is the worst thing that could ever happen to a human being. These aren’t fun things, but considering the tragedies that can come up within one human life, they are not bad. And Cameron Diaz sits there talking about her parents’ divorce and how terrible it was, to a man whose wife has died and who is raising two daughters on his own. I just didn’t have much sympathy for their ‘plight’ because their problems were so negligent in the grand scheme of things. Not to belittle anyone’s experiences with divorce or a bad breakup, but I think we can all agree there are worse things that can happen in the world. So the movie bothers me every time I watch it.
On the other hand, I watch it at least three times a year. There must be something I like about it. Kate Winslet is adorable, and Jude Law is fabulous in it. I love Jack Black, but I know he is a very polarizing actor, so some may hate him. I find Cameron Diaz is a pretty good actress, but the fact that she is a 5’10” size 4 makes it very hard to accept her as an everyday woman. If they had made her intensely neurotic or something, I would have been more capable of accepting it. I’ve seen her do convincing performances before (In Her Shoes is a great example) but this isn’t one of them. But with Jude Law in almost all of her scenes, it’s easy to get through her parts of the movie. It’s an easy movie to sit through and to imagine what a change of location could do to your life. Plus, Kate Winslet’s cottage is possibly the most adorable thing in the history of the world:
Muppet Christmas Carol
Small confession–I haven’t actually seen this one. How did I make it through my childhood with so little exposure to Muppets? I watched a lot of Sesame Street, but never made the jump to the Muppets. Why? Possibly something to do with the absence of Oscar the Grouch from the Muppet gang. I dunno. At any rate, I’m putting this on the list because I’ve heard such good things from so many different sources that I’m confident that when I finally do see this movie, I will love it. Also, it makes me happy to think of it because I once had a conversation with my boyfriend about A Christmas Carol and the ghost of Marley. My boyfriend claimed there were two Marleys. I immediately asked if this was due to the Muppets Christmas Carol, because that’s the only version of A Christmas Carol he was likely to be familiar with. He confirmed this movie as the source of his knowledge, and that ‘Marley and Marley’ were played by Statler and Waldorf, the two old men. Brilliant bit of casting.
At any rate, whenever I think of this movie now, I chuckle because of that conversation.
Obviously, I haven’t seen all of the Christmas movies or even all of the British Christmas movies in the world. Let me know which ones you recommend!