Romantic Favorites Collection (4 Discs) (S) (Widescreen) product details page

Romantic Favorites Collection (4 Discs) (S) (Widescreen)

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Notting Hill not only featured a match made in 1990s romantic comedy heaven, but also used that star wattage to comment on celebrity absurdity. Adding a different spin to the American beauty-meets-British boy formula from Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), the pairing of Hugh Grant's bookseller William with Julia Roberts' movie star Anna Scott becomes a humorously poignant commentary on the unreal life led by stars such as Roberts and Grant. Naturally the tabloid press gets in the way, as do Anna's diva tendencies, but William's down-to-earth, eccentric version of reality (complete with Rhys Ifans' scene-stealing roommate-from-hell Spike) ultimately wins a place in Anna's world. Roberts' low key performance and Anna's awareness of fame's ephemeral nature allow her to be more than simply the lustrous object of William's bumbling desire. Opening strongly the week after Star Wars: Episode 1-The Phantom Menace was released, Notting Hill went on to become the first of Roberts' two 100 million-plus summer romantic comedy hits (along with Runaway Bride), and breathed new life into Grant's tabloid-marred career as a wittily self-deprecating leading man. Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide

Helen Fielding had the sense to be self-deprecating in the title of her second Bridget Jones novel, and director Beeban Kidron considers that her license to concoct a film that's altogether unreasonable indeed. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason once again makes hay of the title character's tendency to go fanny up, flogging the slapstick until it's as wet as Renée Zellweger after repeated puddle drenchings. Zellweger gamely regained the pounds for another go-around, but the audience was less eager this time, leaving the film lost in the 2004 holiday shuffle. The embarrassments heaped upon Jones have taken on a perfunctory quality by this second installment. She continually finds herself stammering in front of Darcy's coterie of international dignitaries, and when the out-of-control Jones haplessly skis into the midst of a professional downhill race, it's hack-level stuff. However, there is a point at which the absurdity (a bizarre second-act plot twist that shouldn't be ruined) goes to such lengths, the joke seems intentional, enough for the film to rebound toward something more sublime. Colin Firth and Hugh Grant again play the candidates for Bridget's affections, though Firth's character is so stiff and unsmiling, the audience almost roots for Grant's lothario to win their inevitable tussle in a public fountain. Derek Armstrong, All Movie Guide

It isn't often that one gets to see a feature cobbled together from a dozen or so rejected script ideas, but that's exactly what prolific British romantic comedy writer Richard Curtis seems to have done with his first directorial effort. Tackling the venerable genre of ensemble comedy with an approach that's more Dr. Frankenstein than Robert Altman, Love Actually strives to encompass the romantic longings of a gaggle of characters both young and old, straight and rampantly straight, wealthy and merely middle-class. The film's prologue narration attempts to establish the overriding importance of love in a post-9/11 world, but many of the characters in Love Actually don't exactly support such a lofty theme; there's a crude bloke dying to get laid (Kris Marshall); an over-the-hill rocker just looking to get paid (Bill Nighy); and at least three randy employers (Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, and improbable Prime Minister Hugh Grant) longing to hook up with workplace subordinates. The film is packed with Curtis' trademark bon mots, stammering heroes, and wry melancholy, to be sure, but the cumulative aesthetic can best be described as "cute" -- certainly not the first word that popped to mind with the writer's more acerbic Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, or Bridget Jones's Diary. Any of Love Actually's plotlines -- well, at least six of them -- might have made a decent film on its own, but taken together, they buckle under the weight of the film's "all you need is love" mantra. Michael Hastings, All Movie Guide

A thoroughly pleasant but decidedly un-romantic comedy boasting another witty star turn from Hugh Grant, this Nick Hornby adaptation belongs to the increasingly common subgenre of hybrid British-American comedy-dramas that are easy enough going down, but may leave viewers with a few naggingly unresolved character arcs and motivations. As a funny, involving tale of redemption for a lazy, spoiled lad edging toward middle age, About a Boy succeeds. Hugh Grant is one of the few actors since Cary Grant who can remain likeable even as he's committing near-despicable acts of dishonesty, and directors Chris and Paul Weitz have found a perfect foil for him in the disarmingly guileless Nicholas Hoult. They've also managed to make their first genuinely stylish film, shot with grainy aplomb by Remi Adefarasin (less successful are editor Nick Moore's showy jump cuts and wipe transitions). But their script, written with Peter Hedges, leaves something to be desired in its romantic half. By the time About a Boy reveals the charming but ineffectual love interest Rachel Weisz, audiences may be long past the point of caring if, when, or with whom its cad of a protagonist is going to settle down. It doesn't help that the luminous Toni Collette, though saddled with a frump of a role, walks off with every scene she's in, and has unlimited depth and chemistry with Grant. Though the Weitz brothers have proven that they have heart to spare when it comes to their lovelorn heroes -- American Pie proved as much -- ultimately, they're not as democratic when it comes to some of their supporting characters, and engaging as it is, About a Boy can't help but suffer as a result. Michael Hastings, All Movie Guide