Rating The Plot Lines In ‘Love Actually’

It’s the day before Christmas and all through the house are the sounds of Love Actually coming from the living room, because tradition in our house is for my mother to watch that movie over and over again while I hide in my room and listen to normal music. I have seen this damn movie so many times. At first I loved it. Then I found it slightly annoying. And now I hate it. But let’s be real: it’s not all bad. Here’s a quick little guide to the best and worst story lines in this madcap Christmas romantic comedy.

GREAT: Harry and Karen

This is definitely the best plot line of the film. Can’t we all agree? First of all, of course Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson would have the best/worst marriage in cinema. It only makes sense for that marriage to be depicted in the best/worst Christmas movie ever made. But not only is this story the strongest, writing wise, it’s consistently the one that tears everyone apart. The scene in which Karen discovers that her husband is probably cheating on her with his tarty (tarty! British!) secretary and she cries along to Joni Mitchell? Don’t act like you haven’t dramatically reacted to every minor life crisis the exact same way.

AWFUL: Jamie and Aurelia

Colin Firth is all Mister Darcy over the fact that his girlfriend sleeping with his brother, so he has to run away to sunny France for Christmas so he can spend the holiday alone and write a novel on his typewriter. Who uses a typewriter?! This ain’t Brooklyn, Jamie. Luckily, he has a hot Portuguese cleaning lady who he falls in love with, and it’s an interesting take on class status in Europe. Ha ha, just kidding, but isn’t it hilarious when Jamie can’t speak Portugese really well at the end? (Nope.)

GREAT: David and Natalie

Sure, it’s kind of weird that this plot line about the Prime Minister and a member of his staff devotes a few scenes to the Iraq war and disparages the United States presidency with a composite of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton (Southern, ass-grabbing) played by Billy Bob Thornton. And then, you know, the Prime Minister falls in love with someone on his staff. But he doesn’t grab her ass! Instead, he dances to the Pointer Sisters. (Ah, those Brits, always making me ask the question, “Is he gay or just English?”) But Hugh Grant is adorable as hell in this, and props to the since-unseen Martine McCutcheon for looking cute as a button and looking like a normal human woman with a real, bangin’ body.  

AWFUL: Sarah and Karl

Why does Laura Linney live in London? What is going on with her mentally ill brother? Why does he call so much? Why does she have a thing for Karl? (OK, that answer is obvious.) Why does Karl string her along? Why does Karl drop her based entirely on the fact that she has a mentally ill brother who calls her too much? I dunno, Karl, maybe you not be a dick for a second and a half and realize that maybe you could take the lady out on a date instead of just trying to bang her after the company holiday party? Or maybe Sarah should wise up and realize that Karl—his name is Karl, for Christ’s sake—is kind of a jag off and maaaaybe she shouldn’t shit where she eats? She already has enough on her plate with her brother, you know?

GREAT: Daniel and Sam

How awkward is it to watch Love Actually now that Natasha Richardson has died? Obviously Liam Neeson’s character would deal with the death of his wife by breaking the necks of a lot of evil Europeans. Or wolves, or something. Luckily, this story line focuses on the love between Daniel and his stepson, Sam. Sam, who is the most adorable child in the history of film, steals everyone’s hearts with his sad face and his mussy hair and his obsession with the American girl who is really only in this movie to remind everyone how awesome “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is. But like Harry and Karen’s story, this plot line is one of the best because it walks the line between heartwarming and heartbreaking.

THE WORST: Mark, Juliet, and Peter

Hey, Mark? If you’re in love with your best friend’s new wife, maybe you should stop hanging around them and filming their wedding and showing up at the door to profess your love to her with some silly Bob Dylan-style speech-with-cue-cards thing. ‘Cause that is some bullllllllshit. You are a terrible person. And Juliet? Don’t think you’re off the hook for kissing him. I know you think he’s sweet and everything, but you have a husband inside the house—right there inside the house—so maybe you shouldn’t participate in his terrible, evil best friend’s efforts to break you two apart because he’s kind of a selfish, sad puppy of a man. And Peter? Pull your head out of your ass. Shit is going down all around you and you’re too busy organizing choirs to sing to your wife. 

GREAT: John and Judy

Tits, basically. And Martin Freeman. So thumbs up!

THE WEIRDEST: Billy Mack and Joe

We can blame this movie for Bill Nighy’s weird career, right? But even I don’t even know what the hell is going on in this one. Sure, I’m beginning to get "Christmas Is All Around" stuck in my head for the rest of the week, and a British bromance is darling, I suppose. But nothing about the resolution of this story—basically, the image of two old Brits sitting around on Christmas eve, hugging and watching porn together—makes me want to do anything but vomit all of the cinematic eggnog I’ve willingly accepted for nearly two-and-a-half hours. 

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Afternoon Links: Paris Hilton’s Return to Music, Zac Efron Drops a Condom

● Paris Hilton makes a sultry — or, as sultry as one can be while saying things like, "No one is safe in the Twittersphere anymore" and "I’m too lazy to type, so I send a photo I took up a dancer’s skirt" — return to music with "Drunk Text," a spoken word collaboration with electro-duo Manufactured Superstars. Maybe it could be art, if you let it. [VV]

● First things first: the graying James Mercer dies in The Shins’ first (and most Royal Tenenbaums-inspired!) video in five years. [Spinner]

● Jennifer Aniston has no interest in a big screen Friends reunion. "I can’t imagine how you would do it, unless you did it years from now," she tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I can’t imagine what that would be. It’s not normal. Friends is in your living room; Friends is not in a movie theater. It doesn’t make sense to me. I think it would be going against its authentic self." [THR]

● Woops! Zac Efron let what appears to be a gold-foiled condom slip from his pocket on the Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax red carpet. At least he’s being safe. [Huff Post]

● None other than Angelina Jolie wrote the forward for Billy Bob Thornton’s upcoming memoir, The Billy Bob Tapes: A Cave Full of Ghosts. [PageSix]

● James Murphy was not just impressed by Dan Albarn and André 3000 — he was totally "awestruck" by them. "I was really stunned at how good Damon and André are as technical musicians," he tells Pitchfork of their Converse collaboration. "They could both sit down and play the piano really well, and I was just like, ‘Um, I can hit stuff.’" [Pitchfork]

Billy Bob Thornton Still a Lovable Dude

If there’s one thing that Billy Bob Thornton cleared up on his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel last night, it’s that he just doesn’t give a fuck. While Jamie Foxx s going on Leno and apologizing for telling a 16-year old to make a sex tape, Thornton offered no such pleasantries to Jian Ghomeshi, the Canadian talk show host he clashed with in a bizarre interview earlier this month. Thornton, as if trying to justify all those tattoos on his arms, declared, “I told a DJ to kiss my ass, that’s all that happened.” Damn you and your devil-may-care attitude Billy Bob, for making me like you all over again (even though you do refer to me as “humpbacked geek”). As for your music? Not so much. Clip after the jump.

Billy Bob Thornton Leaves Canada in Search of Gravy

Billy Bob Thornton loves him some gravy. Two days after a reputation-tarnishing appearance on a Canadian talk radio show with his band The Boxmasters, Willie Nelson’s website is reporting that the band has abandoned the remaining Canadian leg of the tour. The band was touring with Nelson and Ray Price. No reason was given for the abrupt departure, but after comparing Canadian audiences to “mashed potatoes without the gravy,” one can only assume that he wanted gravy on his mashed potatoes, a fair request if there ever was one.

Billy Bob Thornton Does His Best Joaquin Phoenix Impression

Last night, a Facebook status update from one of my friends read “billy bob thornton is a total douche-spout.” Until this morning, I thought she was talking about all the shitty movies he’s been making lately, but it turns out she was referring to an interview he did with Canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi with his band The Boxmasters. When Ghomeshi tried to give context to the interview by introducing the star as the “Oscar-winning screenwriter-actor-director,” Thornton detached himself from the interview and made it his mission to be well, a giant douche-spout. I’d love to rip into him for his self-importance and unbelievable propensity to make his bandmates completely miserable, but this is Joaquinesque performance art at its finest, and it’s kind of brilliant. Check it out after the jump.