Telling Off the Prez: “Love Actually” Still Sings

Telling Off the Prez: “Love Actually” Still Sings

“‘Plumpy’ still loves Love Actually…”

…says “Peter­bor­ough” (Christo­pher Hope) on a peren­ni­al favorite film this time of year, 2003’s Love Actu­al­ly (Dai­ly Tele­graph, Decem­ber 9th):
Actress Mar­tine McCutcheon has stood up for Richard Cur­tis’ 20-year-old fes­tive film Love Actu­al­ly, which has been under fire from woke war­riors. McCutcheon—who plays a No 10 tea lady who gets togeth­er with the PM, played by Hugh Grant—told BBC Radio Solent that the film “is real­ly, real­ly love­ly.” Crit­ics have said McCutcheon was fat-shamed because her char­ac­ter in the film is described as “chub­by” and is nick­named “Plumpy.”
But McCutcheon said: “I absolute­ly love Love Actu­al­ly, because it is fun­ny as well. It has got this snow­ball phe­nom­e­non that just keeps going on year after year and it just reminds peo­ple of you. Peo­ple remem­ber you and you get to do all these dif­fer­ent and amaz­ing projects.”

Many Amer­i­can friends of Britain (and I trust vice-ver­sa) think the “Spe­cial Rela­tion­ship,” invent­ed by Win­ston Churchill, tends nowa­days to work in only one direc­tion. Love Actu­al­ly sug­gests this. Hugh Grant as Prime Min­is­ter deliv­ers an unex­pect­ed mes­sage to a U.S. President.

Seriously stellar cast

Love Actu­al­ly is a rom-com about ten dif­fer­ent romances going on simul­ta­ne­ous­ly in Lon­don at Christ­mas. The cast is remark­able: Col­in Firth (“The King’s Speech”), Rowan Atkin­son (Mr. Bean, the mute com­ic), Emma Thomp­son and Alan Rick­man (Sybil Trelawney and Severus Snape from Har­ry Pot­ter). And Liam Nee­son, who for once isn’t slay­ing the Ungod­ly but try­ing to be a good step-dad to his ten- year-old son. (The boy is in love with an Amer­i­can of the same age.)

Quite a cast—not the least Mar­tin Free­man and Joan­na Page, who meet as body dou­bles for movie sex scenes. John says (while naked and sim­u­lat­ing sex): “it is nice to have some­one I can just chat to.” They fall for each oth­er and she takes him home and invites him in. He says, “Are you sure this is all right? I’ve nev­er done this before.”

PM and President

In the midst of all this the Prime Min­is­ter receives a vis­it from the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States (Bil­ly Bob Thorn­ton). The Prez is a real­ly snarky piece of work. On the side, he tries to seduce Natal­ie (Mar­tine), of Down­ing Street staff. Dur­ing their ple­nary meet­ing, he tells Hugh he has an agen­da he plans to fol­low, what­ev­er Britain thinks. tale or leave it.

At the press con­fer­ence the Pres­i­dent mouths the usu­al plat­i­tudes about the Spe­cial Rela­tion­ship and Hugh tells him off in pub­lic. Nat­u­ral­ly, Churchill gets a men­tion. This is a ter­rif­ic scene for those who think the “spe­cial rela­tion­ship” tends some­times to be a one-way street. You can watch it on YouTube.

Also, the PM gets the girl. When she sends him a Christ­mas card pro­fess­ing her love, he calls for his chauf­feur and heads for her street in Wandsworth (“the dodgy end”). There he goes door to door ask­ing if Natal­ie lives there. The reac­tions of the res­i­dents are price­less. A woman says, “Are you who I think you are?” Hugh replies: “Yes I am. Sor­ry for all the cock-ups, not my fault, my cab­i­nets are absolute crap. We’ll try to do bet­ter next year.”

He finds Natal­ie going out to a kids’ Christ­mas play. He takes her whole fam­i­ly to it in his Jaguar with its police escort, then hides with Natal­ie back­stage. Unfor­tu­nate­ly the cur­tain pulls back at the end and they’re caught. “Too late, just smile and wave.”

By the way, a tip of the hat to for­mer Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron, who said sim­i­lar things, though not with Hugh Grant’s panache. (Some Britons who watch the film, per­haps not so jok­ing­ly, like to pro­pose Grant for PM. His char­ac­ter dis­plays none of the gra­tu­itous pom­pos­i­ty and virtue sig­nal­ing of the cur­rent crop of politi­cians. And not just the British ones.)

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