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Movie Review

Notting Hill

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and brief strong language.

Reviewed by: Debbie Blanton

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Romantic Comedy
123 min.
Year of Release:

Starring: Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant, Hugh Bonneville, Emma Chambers, James Dreyfus, Rhys Ifans, Tim McInnerny, Gina McKee, Richard McCabe, Alec Baldwin / Director: Roger Michell

Many reviews of “Notting Hill” brought to us by media outlets paint the picture of a wonderful romantic comedy rich with excellent chemistry between Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. While many have enjoyed this film, I found myself completely bored and saw nothing at all “wonderful” in “Notting Hill”.

Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) is the most famous movie actress in the world who is filming in London and goes into a travel bookstore run by William Thacker (Hugh Grant) who is just a plain ordinary unknown man. After they meet, she leaves the bookstore while he goes out to get some orange juice. Will literally runs into Anna again, spilling the orange juice onto her shirt. He invites her to his house to change her clothes. After she is changed, Anna exits Will’s flat only to return to retrieve a package she left. As as she starts to leave again she looks into Will’s eyes and kisses him. This is where the trials and tribulations of this mismatched couple begin, the outcome being totally predictable as is the rest of the movie.

The movie does have its funny moments, namely in the performance of supporting character Spike (Rhys Ifans), Will’s messy flatmate who is apparently “hygienically-challenged”. Most of his time on screen is spent in his underwear talking in sexual innuendo. Though he is a comical character, much comic relief is lost due to the nature of his joking.

I may be in the minority but I just didn’t see the chemistry between Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant that a lot of people saw. While I enjoy Julia Roberts as an actress, I was rather disappointed in this performance. The romance between the lead characters didn’t make sense to me; it’s not that I don’t believe in love at first sight, but in this circumstance I just didn’t get it… especially when the characters barely spoke to each other before they kissed and “fell in love.” Just seems a bit odd.

“Notting Hill” was filled with a LOT of sexual innuendo, including a scene where Spike is checking himself out in a mirror focusing on a particularly private area and even touching it. There is implied sex between Anna and Will. There is also a scene where Anna and Will have a deep discussion about her having a “stunt bottom.” Although there is no actually full nudity there is a scene showing Anna’s nude back as well as a scene where the upper part of Spike’s rear end is shown. There was a one brief reference to drugs but I saw no use of any drugs. Obscene language included about half a dozen uses of “s*it”, 3 or 4 of the “f” word, several uses of “damn”, and several instances where God’s name is taken in vain.

Even if all sexual innuendo and foul language had been excluded, my opinion of this film would still be low. If you choose to bypass this one and still want a good movie that is a “star-crossed lovers” romantic comedy then rent “Roman Holiday”. At least Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn had chemistry I could believe in.

Viewer Comments
When will Hollywood learn to make good movies and not mess them up with vulgarity and sex? It was one of those movies that you hate when another Christian or your children asked “what movie did you see?” I was ashamed to say I saw it and had to warn other Christians not to watch it because of the few foul words and immoral sex acts. Other than the rot in it, it was great. I think Hollywood should try a few clean romantic movies and maybe they will gain the Christian market too.
—Gary P., age 45
I thought this movie was great! There were a lot of funny lines in the movie. The only downfall in the movie was the sexual references from the character Spike. Without that, the film would have been better. I would recommend this film for practically anyone who has a sense of humor.
—Sarah Bown, age 15
[This] review was much too critical of Notting Hill. This is a great, funny, romantic comedy that my wife and I highly recommend.
—Terry and Susan Clark, age 33
HYSTERICAL! One of the funniest movies I’ve seen. Both my wife and I enjoyed it. I guess one could be offended by a few bad words, the mention of divorce, and an unmarried couple sleeping together. But a Christian ought to be strong enough to not let these things effect or influence them and still enjoy a good movie. I would give this a 3/5 on your scale. This is a movie I could watch over the years and still laugh every time.
—Chris Prang, age 34
The reviewer got it all wrong I suggest. Hilarious and refreshingly free of overt godless propaganda that sexual liberation is the answer. It implied advocation of life-long relationships and for this reason should be commended. It is neither deep nor thought-provoking, but meets its aim in being highly entertaining. It is far superior in its content morally to “Four Weddings and a Funeral” which was widely regarded as immensely successful. I am English though …
—Alastair Mills, age 26
I wanted to like this movie, but for me it missed the mark. I think that if when Anna had gone to stay with Will, in order to avoid the media, and they had controlled their passions, it would have been much more believable. Having lived her lifestyle as she did, Anna had to know they would find her, but she acted like she was surprised and then flew into a rage over it. She might have been justified if they had done nothing and were innocent. But they were not. It seems to me she made her own problems and then blamed Will. You can put two pretty people together in a movie, but it doesn’t necessarily “make” the movie.
—P. Tomlinson
The funny thing is that I was actually looking forward to seeing NOTTING HILL. The premise seemed interesting enough; and to be honest, it would have been interesting enough if it had been cut by maybe 35 or 40 minutes. The problem was pacing. How to describe NOTTING HILL’s pacing? Slow? Plodding? Somnambulant? Laborious? Hmm… perhaps, “all of the above.” My companion for the showing kept digging through her purse to find her pager in order to discover just how much time had passed and how much longer we would have to sit still to claim we had seen the whole thing. At one point William is walking down an avenue and we see the seasons change about him. I leant over: “You know how I know a year has passed just now?” “Um, how?” “It feels like it.” It’s unfortunate that this is the case, for I do (despite vicious rumours to the contrary) enjoy many of the so-called romantic comedies. Case in point: MEET JOE BLACK boasted an even longer running time and a much weaker story-premise, but was much more enjoyable in spite of its handicapped. The plain truth is NOTTING HILL excels at exercising mediocrity; there was nothing stupendous about the film or the story or the manner in which the characters work their way toward the conclusion. Of interest is the fact that the most romantic piece of this film comes not from its leading couple, but rather from the periphery. The love and tenderness demonstrated by William’s friend when he gently lifts his crippled wife into the car in the midst of a panicky moment far surpasses the love exhibited in William’s and Anna’s shallow longing.
—Seth T. Hahne, age 26
This movie revolved around fame and sex, as if they were the only things that mattered. this movie was superficial, it portrayed “true love” with people who had scarcely met, and just because they had sex, that they must be meant for each other. Hugh Grant’s character was willing to forgive anything the famous star Julia Roberts did. It was like he worshipped her in some ways. This movie is very unbelievable and totally predictable, but it was quite entertaining.
—Michelle, age 15
I liked a bit more than the reviewer. It does definitely have its week points. The relationship between Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts felt forced. What made this film shine is the supporting cast. The leads were surrounded by a interesting group of friends who stole the show in my opinion. This film has a romantic worldview, certainly not Christian. Some bad language and sexual talk and situations. Not for kids, maybe okay for morally well-grounded teens of older age. All in all, I’d recommend it; not a classic but fairly entertaining.
—Kevin, age 28
I agree with Debbie Blanton’s review completely about Notting Hill. I, too didn’t see the chemistry work between the two characters either and the movie was rather slow and definitely predictable. The scene I objected to the most was when Julia Roberts looks into Hugh Grants eyes and says “I like you” and he says the same thing and then they end up in bed together as if that is the criteria for engaging in sexual activity—because they LIKE each other. I liked the fact that they both seemed to desire the same thing—commitment to one partner for life—and that the movie reinforced this message with marriage and the final scene with the park bench, but I wouldn’t call this a great romantic comedy.
—Donna Kristiansen, age 49
While I agree with the reviewer’s conclusion, I wish the review would have mentioned the supporting cast—there were some great characters, such as Hugh’s brother, sister, sister-in-law who were more likable and believable Brits than what Hugh or Julia played. That said, however, I do agree with the review.
—Brian, age 26
…Overall, the movie is extremely entertaining. You can’t help but love Mr. Grant’s character, played with a perfect meekness. Ms. Roberts is equally entertaining as a hurting superstar. You can’t help but like the two characters. A great example of forgiveness is displayed, although there is no mention of God or Christ. The conduct of most of the characters in the movie is less than desirable. There is profanity sprinkled through out the movie along with other crude behavior, mainly exhibited by William Thacker’s flatmate, played by Rhys Ifans. A funny character, but also crude at times. There is no nudity, although premarital sex is present and not seen as wrong. It’s sad to see another great movie tainted with language and other ungodly behavior. Except for a few things the movie is great. And those few things do not have to be in the movie! That is the sad thing. It could still be just as funny and charming without the nonsense. Bottom line??? I would recommend, if you don’t mind a few things here and there. And obviously not for small children.
—J.G. Turner, age 26