Let's Settle This One and For All: Is Love Actually a Good Movie?

Tierney Bricker
·6 min read
Let's Settle This One and For All: Is Love Actually a Good Movie?
Let's Settle This One and For All: Is Love Actually a Good Movie?

Love Actually.

We're 99.9 percent sure those two words just elicited a very strong reaction from you on sight. That is the power of Richard Curtis' holiday rom-com.

Released in 2003 and starring a who's who of British actors—Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Kiera Knightley, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Andrew Lincoln, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Martin Freeman and Bill Nighy—Love Actually became an instant classic for many. But for others, it's become a stain on their favorite season.

For every fan that finds the airport montage swoonworthy, there's another viewer that finds it schmaltzy. And while some see Grant's prime minister charming, others think his pursuit of one of his staffers is kind of creepy. And don't even get a hater started on the "To Me, You Are Perfect" sign unless you want to lose an hour or so of your day.

So, in honor of its 17th anniversary, we're settling the debate once and for all: Is Love Actually actually a good movie? And, maybe more importantly, does it matter if it's not?

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E! staffers weighed in with their intense feelings on the Christmas movie, sounding off on the dueling love stories, the iconic music and that couple filming a porno.

The first rule of debate club? Snark all you want in debate club...

Love Actually Feature, Anniversary
Love Actually Feature, Anniversary

LOVE

I'm not sure how it's possible to consider Love Actually a bad movie. I watch it at least once every year and I make sure I wait until the perfect time—not too early, not too late in the season, when I'm fully ready to sit and enjoy. I spend half the movie arguing with myself over which couple is the best and the winner is almost always the Prime Minister and Natalie.

Does Alan Rickman cheating on Emma Thompson almost ruin the movie? Definitely. Is it weird that Kiera Knightley was 18 when this movie came out and that her storyline is about Andrew Lincoln being inappropriately obsessed with her? Sure, but his silent poster boards get me every time. Plus, have you seen Colin Firth in 2003? Love actually is all around and I don't know how anybody can argue with that. - Lauren Piester

Hugh Grant, Martine Mccutcheon, Love Actually
Hugh Grant, Martine Mccutcheon, Love Actually

For better or worse, I've grown up watching Love Actually since I was 11 (yes, every scene). It's become a Christmas staple in my house. In fact, it doesn't even need to be Christmas for me to say YES anytime someone even mentions turning it on.

It has everything: romance, drama, Hugh Grant dancing, Colin Firth professing his love in broken Portuguese, an "ALL I WANT FOR XMAS" singalong. Is it unrealistic and at times problematic? Yes. Does it put you in the holiday spirit? Also yes. Does it make you want to fall in love and listen to "God Only Knows" on repeat? YES. Part of the fun of movies/shows like Valentine's Day, Emily In Paris, etc., is more escapism than anything. It perfectly captures what Christmas is: messy, chaotic, fun, and at times sad. If I have to overlook the fact that Kris Marshall is creepy and Andrew Lincoln hits on his best friend's wife, then so be it. Merry Christmas. - Sydney Hom

Liam Neeson Absolutely Refuses to Watch Love Actually

I don't know about you, but the more storylines in a movie, the better. The good people who made Love Actually gave us tons of star-studded love stories to follow making the holiday film fly by. Everyone has their favorite couple, but there's nothing better than Mark expressing his hidden love for Juliet. "Say It's Carol Singers" and enjoy! - Mike Vulpo

Hugh Grant, Love Actually
Hugh Grant, Love Actually

What is there NOT to love about this movie? Comedy, romance, friendship, tragedy, Hugh Grant dancing, Joni Mitchell, Mr. Bean, (need I go on?)
I can almost recite this entire movie, and if you're still quoting a movie 17 years later, it did something right. The emotion evoked when Sarah gets this close to sealing the deal with the object of her affection and potential love of her life, but doesn't… immeasurable.

Although I am a stan through and through, I'd like to talk about a qualm I have: Mark's attempt at cuckolding his best friend's new WIFE with a sign that says "I will always love you", is not romantic. It has to be acknowledged that he's not only a bad friend, but he's also mean to Juliet for no reason and expects her to what, swoon over some fake caroling music? Absolutely not.

All-in-all, this movie is a Christmas classic, a winter staple, and should not be deemed anything less. Let's show some RESPECT for Alan Rickman shall we?! - Angela Cuseo

Love Actually GIFs
Love Actually GIFs

LOATHE

This is actually one of the worst movies ever made. For starters, it opens with the beauty of the arrivals gate at an airport, people hugging, cheering. Have you ever been to an airport and felt this much bliss? No, you're stressed, you're trying to find your bags, you want to get the hell out of there and either get to your destination or get home. This is not a place to sit around and hang.

Then we have the Andrew Lincoln and Keira Knightley storyline, one of MANY that are wildly problematic. To put it simply, he has been secretly videotaping his best friend's wife. That is creepy AF. Plus, Keira Knightley is literally only 18 in this movie. Imagine if your husband's best friend professed his love to you. Where do you go from there?

Really, there are only two people who get love actually correct: The couple filming porn. Yes, no one asked for that nonsense scene, but if you take away the absurdity of what they are doing, it's a very normal conversation.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk. - Jamie Blynn

Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Love Actually
Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Love Actually

"There's absolutely no logic behind this, but I can't discuss Love Actually without discussing The Holiday, the better of the two. Perhaps it's because I'm a sucker for early 2000s Cameron Diaz? I don't know! Love Actually has nine intertwined stories. Nine! Who has time for that? There's just too much going on. And I have a short attention span. It's a no for me."

MEH

I used to really love Love Actually but lately I've found myself getting bummed out at too many of the segments to find it particularly heartwarming. The Alan Rickman/Emma Thompson cheating storyline is reason enough not to believe in love. Keira Knightley kissing her new husband's best friend, knowing full well she'll be at dinners with him for the end of time, harboring this huge secret? That's a problem! Just because it's Christmas, and on Christmas you "tell the truth," doesn't mean you didn't just blow up your lives. Also, Liam Neeson's wife in the movie died, and yes, that is still extremely sad, even though he got his stepson a girlfriend for Christmas and might be dating a supermodel he met at the airport in the future. - Kaitlin Reilly

17 years ago, I loved the movie because of the extraordinary cast and the fun music it featured. Looking at the movie now, it doesn't seem like a feel-good Christmas movie to me anymore. If anything, it shows the reality that the holidays can be a difficult time for families and relationships. - Melissa Herwitt

Love Actually is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime, YouTube and iTunes.