Notting Hill

Bomb Rating: 

This film reminded me of an old roommate's dog. Said dog had the terrible habit of eating itself into near-oblivion, then barfing a stomachful of half-digested food onto the floor. After a few seconds, the dog would realize the pointlessness of begging for more food, then proceed to noisily lap up its own vomit with that inimitable dog glee usually reserved for such occasions as rolling on a rotting slab of ham.

Certainly there's some question as to exactly who the dog represents in this clever little metaphor, but somebody is barfing up ideas straight from "Four Weddings and a Funeral" yet again, without even the dignity to attempt to disguise them with, say, a nice explosion or decapitation. In this case, Julia Roberts is Andie McDowell and Hugh Grant is, well, Hugh Grant. There's the paraplegic sister instead of the deaf brother, and the standard-issue assortment of oddballs stamped straight out of the "Screenwriting 101" mold.

If you ask yourself how the world works in "Notting Hill," you're unlikely to come up with many logical answers. Since one cannot make a movie about some loser masturbating to pictures of Julia Roberts, loser bookshop owner William Thacker (Hugh Grant) gets to actually fall in love with a movie superstar, Anna Scott (Julia Roberts). She walks into his little book shop; he sells her a book and spills coffee on her. The next thing you know, rather than getting beaten to a pulp by hulking bodyguards, he's looking under the sheets at her breasts and discussing the murky aspects of butt doubles.

What I want to know is this: In what universe can a guy who apparently earns about two pence per day afford the rent on his well-placed little shop, much less afford a £2,000-per-month flat? His proverbial wacky roommate, Spike (Rhys Ifans), doesn't seem to have a real job, either. What gives? Miss Scott will certainly be surprised to learn that her charming beau has been blowing Saudi businessmen in the alley to make rent. As if the whole predictable love story weren't enough, director Curtis is standing there with a gun at the end of the film, trying to blow holes in his own feet. The film is over the second Anna and William decide they're going to make it work, but Curtis crams another two minutes down our throats that play like the epilogue to a self-help book. Personally, I would have rather spent the 90 minutes rolling on a rotting slab of ham.

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