Would it make any sense if I say this movie is a quirky British version of Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi“? Let’s just say Will’s ex-wife (who ran off with an Indiana Jones look-a-like) will be SOOOO jealous when she sees Will chatting it up with Giuliana Rancic on E! about who he’s wearing. (Follow up movie, anyone? Anyone? Bueller?)
I haven’t seen this movie in a while (more on that later), but it’s on Netflix now — so go queue it up if you haven’t seen it and enjoy this odd-yet-delightful Hugh Grant/Julia Roberts flick.
Note: This post may contain spoilers. If you don’t want to know, this is the place to stop.
William Thacker — a self-deprecating indy travel bookstore owner — spills orange juice on world-famous actress Anna Scott. Will invites her back to his flat to change. Intrigued by his humble kindness, she kisses him.
Anna leaves a message with Will’s exhibitionist (not sure how else to describe him) flat-mate Spike inviting Will to her hotel.
Events proceed humorously — Will caught in the middle of Anna’s press junket, assumes the role of Horse & Hound reporter to interview the cast of a movie he hasn’t seen. Anna goes as Will’s date to his little sister’s birthday. But the fun ends when Anna invites Will up to her room — and her famous actor boyfriend is there. Will tries to move on, but can’t quite forget Anna.
When racy photos come out, Anna runs to Will for a place to hide. They sleep together, and Anna feels like someone is finally with her for her. Until the press shows up at the front door (courtesy of Spike’s big mouth) and snaps photos of Anna, Will, and Spike in various states of undress. Anna is hurt, believing Will called the press on her. Will is heartbroken — and Anna’s fame serves as a constant reminder.
When Anna comes back to England to film a movie, Will goes to visit the set. He is encouraged perhaps she has some feelings for him too — until overhearing her tell another actor that he is “no one.”
Anna shows up at Will’s bookstore to apologize for her last visit — and asks him out. Will says he heard her say he was no one, and he doesn’t think he could handle being rejected by her again because her face is everywhere. Anna tells him the fame isn’t real — she’s just a girl who wants to be loved.
Will goes to his friends, looking for confirmation he did the right thing — and discovers he’s made the wrong call. Together they race to find Anna, who’s holding a press conference before returning to America. Once Will finds her, he resumes his role of Horse & Hound reporter — and roundaboutly tells Anna he’s changed his mind and begs her to reconsider. She agrees and stays in England with him. A montage later shows Will and Anna marry, then pregnant with a child.
- “I enjoyed the movie very much. I was just wondering, did you ever consider having more horses in it?” — Will (posing as a reporter from Horse & Hound magazine, asking about a movie set in space)
- “And, one day not long from now, my looks will go, they will discover I can’t act, and I will become some sad middle-aged woman who looks a bit like someone who was famous for a while.” — Anna
- “Oh, bloody hell, I don’t believe it. My whole life ruined because I don’t read Hello! magazine.” — Will
- “Yes — happiness isn’t happiness without a violin-playing goat.” — Anna
- “It was sort of sweet actually. I mean, I know she’s an actress and all that, so she can deliver a line. But she said that she might be as famous as can be — but also … that she was just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her … Oh, sod a dog. I’ve made the wrong decision, haven’t I?” — Will
Ok, so I’ll admit — its been awhile since I’ve watched this movie …
In fact, it had been so long that I forgot the protagonist was a boy. (And the poster art certainly didn’t help me remember!) And while JRob’s Anna Scott certainly isn’t a minor character, she doesn’t really say a whole lot … (Don’t believe me? Go watch it on Netflix right now — she’s about as monosyllabic as Jess from Gilmore Girls until her effort to win the brownie at the party. And even once she starts to open up, she doesn’t talk near as much as Will.)
So I briefly considering scrapping the idea and discussing a different film instead — until BAM!
I had an epiphany: One of the great things about this movie is that in allowing the protagonist to be a man it flip-flops the typical male/female roles of a rom-com — which is something totally worth talking about on a blog about strong females!
Take for example 27 Dresses or Sleepless in Seattle or Leap Year. Usually it’s the girl who’s a bumbling, rambling mess (even if — or sometimes especially if — she’s super type-A ). And the guy’s the one who’s basically running the show and calling the shots — he’s the one who’s writing the story about our perpetual bridesmaid, or vetting the letters (with the help of his son) of our late-night radio listener, or driving the car to Dublin so our neurotic planner can propose to her boyfriend.
But in this movie, Will is the adorkable klutz. He’s the one who spills the juice, pretends to the be the editor of Horse & Hound, and pines after her. While Anna gets to be the strong, elegant, and mysterious one, he takes most (if not all) of the pratfalls as he bounces from misadventure to misadventure until finally rushing to find her and make the grand gesture.
I’m not saying this was an intentional commentary on male/female roles in romantic comedies — the choices made could as easily be a function of the plot (makes more sense to have the bookstore owner be the nervous goof rather than the millionaire actress).
But I am saying — whether intentional or not — it is refreshing to see a breakup where the girl is off living her fabulous life and the guy is the one crying in the movie theater (and whining to his friends, and bemoaning never having read Hello! magazine) for a change. #SorryNotSorry
10 Random Thoughts During the Movie
- I wonder if all of this footage of “famous actress Anna Scott” is real footage of Julia Roberts on the red carpet, or if they actually staged it all.
- Ah! Unda-pants! (I often think in Cory Matthew’s voice.) And they don’t even look clean. Spike, don’t they have laundromats in England?
- The Horse & Hound interview scene is exactly why I love Hugh Grant. Comedic delight. I need to watch more of his movies ASAP.
- Anna Scott is like the coolest celebrity ever. Not only does she give fabulously honest autographs, but she’ll go to your sister’s birthday party, fight for the brownie, and climb into private gardens with you.
- Alec Baldwin cameo! Alec Baldwin cameo! (And is it just me, or do you love him more when he plays jerks?)
- Ugh, Spike! No one needs your undies splashed all over Hello! magazine.
- Will truly has the patience of Job. How exactly did the two of them wind up rooming together? This seems like a great idea for a prequel.
- Aw, she did a Henry James movie — just like they talked about together! (See — usually I would gush over the romantic things the guy did, but I’m gushing over her.)
- YES! Of all Will’s friends, who would have though Spike would be the voice of reason? Run after her, you fool. Run!!!
- This ending makes me so happy! On a park bench — married, pregnant, and reading together. This is my personal fantasy future. #AllTheFeels