Rewatching Love Actually in 2023 Makes For 6 Cringey Subplots
For many people, Love Actually has become a Christmas classic.
It gets re-watched every year, along with such annual standbys as It's a Wonderful Life and Die Hard.
However, not everything in the 2003 movie has aged well. In fact, some of it can really make you cringe if you watch it now, on its 20th anniversary.
Women Are Too Stupid To See Past an Accent
A lot of Love Actually has aged poorly over the past two decades, but one plotline was cringey right from the beginning. That's the story of Colin, who has terrible luck with women. You would think that it's because he's obnoxious and creepy and says awful things like 'try my lovely nuts', but no – it's because he's on the wrong continent. Women in America would fall for him, because he has an accent!
What makes this plotline so horrible is that he turns out to be right. The problem ISN'T that Colin is the worst! As soon as model-level babes outside of the UK hear his accent, they fall into a puddle of lust and take him home for an orgy!
Colin hot! Women dumb!
Let's Fire the 'Fat' Girl
Much has been made about the endless casual cruelty towards Natalie in this movie. For some reason, she's always referred to in the context of how 'chubby' and 'fat' she is, with 'huge thighs'. This is terrible enough on its own, but it's extra shitty when you consider that Natalie is very much average sized. So characters are constantly denigrating the weight of someone who is skinnier than the majority of the audience members. How's that supposed to make us feel?
Add on to that the fact that the Prime Minister – the most powerful man in Britain – is uncomfortable with his attraction to Natalie, and his solution is to… (checks notes…) fire her. The working class girl who's just trying to support herself. Cringe! Hiss! Boo! Justice for Natalie!
Mark Hitting on Juliet with Signage
I think when this movie was first released, nobody thought much of this scene beyond, 'Ah, how sad that Mark's love is unrequited – but at least he plucked up the courage and told her just once!'
And then time passed… and we thought about it some more.
Peter is Mark's BEST FRIEND. It is definitely not okay to show up at your best friend's house and confess your love to his wife! Not only is it a major betrayal, it puts Juliet in a horrible position. She either has to keep a secret from her husband, or ruin his most important friendship.
Next time keep it inside, Mark!
Juliet Kissing Mark
And then… Juliet runs after Mark and kisses him. Again, I suppose this was meant to be a bittersweet moment. But imagine if Peter had looked out the window and seen his wife kissing his best friend? Would he ever trust either of them again? Probably not.
Hot tip, kids: infidelity is not romantic, even if it's only a kiss. And even if it's Christmas.
Sarah Ends Up Alone
There are a lot of sins that Love Actually can forgive. We're supposed to find Mark brave and sweet for declaring his love for his best friend's wife. We're supposed to shrug off the fat jokes. Never having a real conversation (Jamie/Aurélia, Sam/Joanna) is not an impediment for finding true love, because love can survive all obstacles!
Unless, of course, you're Sarah (Laura Linney). After the shy and sweet Sarah finally connects with Karl, her workplace crush, their romantic interlude is interrupted when Sarah keeps having to answer the phone to deal with her brother, who is in an institution due to mental illness.
Although romances in the world of Love Actually can survive impenetrable language barriers, apparently what it CAN'T do is have patience for a woman dealing with a complex home life. Sarah doesn't get a romance. She doesn't even get a date. (How could the woman DATE?! She has a BROTHER! With NEEDS!! She must DIE ALONE!!!)
Stalking Isn't Cute Even If You Are
Look, we can respect Tiny Adorable Sam learning the drums just to get close to Joanna. Some people might complain that this is a stalker-y move, but learning what your crush is into and then getting into it too is a time-honored tradition. Plus, we admire any kid with a hobby that isn't Fortnite.
But please, please, PLEASE don't chase someone through the airport, probably breaking a bunch of laws along the way, and then declare in front of her parents and airport security that you're in love with her. If you're already in a relationship and you're coming to propose, you might get brownie points for the effort. But if you've never had a conversation with that person before it's super weird, and puts way too much pressure on someone who doesn't know you or owe you anything.
Imagine being in junior high (already the most awkward time ever) when a kid you've never had a conversation with busts through airport security and declares his love to you. And he's being arrested. And your dad is there. And you'd better accept his love because otherwise you're going to look like a huge jerk in front of the crowd of people staring at you.