Here at Metro, we’re split on “Love Actually.” Some of us adore it and watch it every year; some of us think it’s the devil. This writer, as he’s said before, is in the latter camp, which puts us in an awkward position re: “Red Nose Day Actually,” aka the “‘Love Actually’ reunion.” On the plus side, it will literally save lives. The short film, which catches back up with most (but not all) of the 2003 heartwarmer’s cavalcade of lovelorn characters, airs tonight on NBC as part of their Red Nose Day slot, beaming into fan’s hearts so that it can ask them to donate to charity. That’s heroic.
Also in the good pile: It’s short. The original “Love Actually” is a veritable rom-com epic — 136 minutes of Richard Curtis-style stammering and farcical confusions and moony types making mad dashes to gracelessly profess their love. We enjoy Richard Curtis; we’ll never reveal how many times we’ve watched “Notting Hill.” But a Curtis blob that runs only 9 minutes shorter than “Goodfellas” is too much, and the last hour — a non-stop battering ram of the aforementioned mad dashes — makes us want to turn on the news for some much-needed misery.
Both the charity aspect and the short’s brevity (though 15 minutes is still too long, frankly) outweigh the fact that it’s more “Love Actually.” And it’s more of the same. Keira Knightley’s Juliet gets another semi-creepy cue card greeting from Andrew Lincoln’s Mark, who now has a famous girlfriend and a gross “Walking Dead”-era beard. Bill Nighy’s Billy Mack is pimping another bad song, this time for charity. Hugh Grant’s newly reinstated PM dances to Drake this time, giving us enough time to wonder if this is a fantasy England in which Brexit never happened.
(The MIAs, by the way, include Martin Freeman, Emma Thompson, Laura Linney and, of course, the tragically late Alan Rickman. Billy Mack alludes to the death of his beloved manager/platonic life partner Joe, though actor Gregor Fisher is still very much with us. Weird.)
It’s a parade of call-backs and fan service, with no new jokes, just reheated ones. (Though we always appreciate a dig at Piers Morgan.) And they’re call-backs to a movie we, personally, despise with every fiber of our being. Then again, you better watch “Red Nose Day Actually.” Drive up those ratings so NBC will do this again next year. Text money to the charity number on the screen. Save some lives. Then let’s never speak of “Love Actually” again.