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Notting Off

Star power isn't enough to overcome this hollow romance

The big romance here isn't between William and Anna; they're almost unnecessary, pretty people in a pretty movie about pretty much nothing. Rather, the love affair's between Hollywood and itself: Notting Hill offers another example of moviemakers consoling themselves about how tough it is to be famous while congratulating themselves on how down-to-earth they really are. The audience ends up acting just like William's friends, wanting the two star-crossed lovers to get together, but only because that's the way the fairy tale goes.

If you want irony, try this on: The biggest scene-stealing laughs don't even belong to Grant or Roberts. Rather, they're the handiwork of William's flatmate Spike (played by Rhys Ifans), who's a hygienically crippled "masturbating Welshman" who doesn't even belong in this film -- and happens to spend an inordinate amount of screen time in his dirty, teeny-weeny skivvies. Apparently he didn't have a no-nudity clause. That, also, is unfortunate.

Notting Hill.
Rated PG-13.
Directed by Roger Mitchell. With Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant, Emma Chambers, James Dreyfus and Rhys Ifans.

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