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Opinion: Hugh Grant Was Right About ‘Love Actually’


Editor’s Note: Holly Thomas is a writer and editor based in London. She is the morning editor at Katie Couric Media. She tweeted @HolstaT. The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author only. View more comments on CNN.



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In many ways, Christmas as an adult is like Snake Day. You roll out of bed much earlier than you’d like, and for the most part, the next 12 hours are a comfortable, but largely predictable, repetition of past Christmases: presents, showers lotus, stroll, food, sofa, TV. Same big TV.

Holly Thomas

Come to think of it, “Love Actually” made a comeback earlier this year. This week, ABC aired a chat with the cast and Diane Sawyer to reflect on 20 years of Christmas classics everywhere. The actors gave their answers to the devilish question, “Is love really…?” and Hugh Grant repeat my disgust at that dance scene. Richard Curtis express some regret for the film’s lack of diversity, but nothing for the film’s suggestion that a prime minister removing an employee who was a victim of sexual harassment is actually very romantic, as long as they then hunt down the person. there and robbed a Christmas at school to make out with them.

The casual observer might wonder what such a new land could hope to cover. Twenty years of a Christmas exclusive, “Love Actually” has been picked up from all angles, both by those who love its fake charms and by those who love it. by people like me.

usually although, wherever “Love Actual” appears, it is a symptom of a bigger problem. In this case, it’s a simple one: Hollywood will relentlessly tap into our collective nostalgia and invest heavily in revisiting the same grueling material that makes new movies and shows fall in love. blur.

Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon in 'True Love'

This is not just a Christmas issue. The nostalgia loop has seen repetition after repetition dominate our screens year round. Popular series like James Bond, Marvel, “Fast & Furious” and “Star Wars” have become mainstays of our streaming services, but they’re also crowding out lesser-known indie content come over.

Disney+ has a wide variety of “Star Wars” and Marvel movies, spin-offs, specials, and animated movies. Head over to Netflix and you’ll see “Wednesday,” the Addams Family’s newest confection topping its list of TV shows, and Amazon Prime just dropped. nearly half a billion dollars on the unimpressive first season of the “Lord of the Rings” prequel. Celebrity shows with meaningful endings often inspire emotional reunions of their cast – see also: “Harry Potter” and “Friends.” (Those reunions aired on HBO, which shares a parent company with CNN.)

Avatar: The Road of Water

Many of the most successful classics are resurrected years later, bringing back old members or matching newer models. As a result, movie theaters and streaming services are flooded with familiar characters, settings, episodes, and plots. Understandable – if a show or movie already has a long-standing fan base and is almost guaranteed to turn a profit, why not squeeze every penny possible? Well, because eventually, you’ll run it – and the rest of the industry – into a dead end. Just look at “Avatar: The Way of Water” by James Cameron, Cameron said would need to bring in $2 billion just to break even. Talk about over-investing in a brand that no one really needs to revisit.

Mark Twain has said (with a debt to Ecclesiastes 1:9) there is no such thing as new ideas, and Christopher Booker insists there are only seven basic plots. To some extent, Hollywood has always endured this. From mang classics of the stage hit the big screen in the 1940s and 1950s, by the 2010s making the finale of every blockbuster series of split it into two moviesThe film industry has never been afraid to use tried and tested formulas.

Daniel Kaluuya in 'Outside' (2017)

Unfortunately for the studios, this strategy has a shelf life, and the franchise’s spin has become so overwhelming in recent years that even its most prominent stars have given up. . Daniel Craig consolidating the end of his term playing James Bond leaves no room for ambiguity seeing his character blow up at the end of No Time To Die, and after a decade playing Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. Never come back.

Even the best meal becomes less appealing if eaten too often, and the most influential song becomes less moving if you listen to it over and over again. The blueprint for Hollywood success has worn away, and it seems more frazzled by comparison whenever a spark of originality breaks through the cracks.

This contrast is especially evident in horror. Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” (2017) and “Us” (2019) have grossed more dollars at the box office than the latest films from the “Halloween” and “Scream” franchises, especially thanks to their bold, slightly satirical style. , which proved to be much more appealing to audiences than remakes of blockbusters. The somewhat muted response to “Nope” (2022), Peele’s latest film, is the first sign that viewers are slowly getting used to his signature flourish. More than any other genre, horror depends on its ability to shock and surprise its fans. Innovation can bring huge rewards, but too often, the risk involved puts filmmakers off.

Hollywood is clearly worried about pouring money into untried material, but untested material outside of Hollywood continues to shine. French comedy-drama series “Call My Agent” (2015), Korean comedy thriller “Parasite” (2019), British miniseries “It’s A Sin” (2021) and the series The German historical mystery “1899” (2022) has all proven a success with audiences, despite the lack of superheroes or famous names in the lead roles.

Actual art cannot avoid derivation, but the danger arises when a single concept is recycled infinitely wholesale advertising, led by the same director, and the same starring faces. , tells the same story. Sure, it will lose its magic. And when the concept isn’t magical in the first place, it becomes extremely frustrating to revisit it.

Just watch Hugh Grant’s face whenever the dance scene in “Love Actually” mes mentioned. It couldn’t be clearer that given the choice, he would choose a 007 scale explosion over having to listen to the Pointer Sisters’ “Jump (For My Love)” note.

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