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Love Actually Love Actually

The Countdown to Christmas begins with the refreshing and funny romantic comedy Love Actually that is, surprisingly, a joy to watch. Brought to you by Richard Curtis, the guy who produced and wrote other similar Brit comedies like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Bridget Jones's Diary, it follows several slightly connected people all in the midst of different stages of love and relationships: a quirky aging rocker with a rapier wit, Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) and his chubby manager; a grieving widower (Liam Neeson) with possibly the cutest most earnest son on earth; a newly elected Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) with an affinity for The Pointer Sisters as well as a staff member (Martine McCutcheon); a woman Sarah (Laura Linney) with complicated family issues and an office crush on a serious hottie, Karl (Rodrigo Santoro); a cuckolded man (Colin Firth) who runs off to France only to learn the international language of love with his Portuguese maid; a newlywed couple in which the best man is secretly in love with the bride (Keira Knightley); and a comfortably married man (Alan Rickman) who faces temptation in the flesh while his wife (Emma Thompson) keeps it all together.

At times the plot seems thinned out due to all of the different characters; while you're watching one character, you're thinking about another. There are so many storylines that you simply don't get enough. It works in a Robert Altman film in which the plot only skims the surface of all the characters, but in this flick the story delves deeper into their lives so that you begin to care what the hell happens to them.

There are many great moments in this movie (not the ones that change your life but the ones that make you smile and laugh and sigh); for example, as two stand-ins for a movie are acting like they are doing it doggie-style and as the crew's yelling out cues like "Massage her breasts!", the two nonchalantly talk about the day's traffic. Another great scene occurs when two characters are dancing together to Norah Jones's hypnotic music; their fragile emotions are so palpable you'll be having flashbacks to your first dance.

Okay, maybe this technically is a Chick Flick but it's so endearing that it could melt the iciest of hearts. Not only is it funny but it is also sexy and it's rated R. Furthermore, this critic does not like sappy, cheesy, tearjerkers; Love Actually may not be what you think it is. Oh, and it's true, the English are better dressers.

Stars: 4.5 out of 5