Back in college, when I'd get bored out of my mind in my dorm room and I had some money saved up, I'd usually head to SM Dasmariñas to window-shop. Books didn't exert a strong magnetic force toward me yet, so what I often ended up buying, if I did decide to spend any cash, were VCDs. During one of my visits to Odyssey I chanced upon Love Actually, and being a fan of Keira Knightley and finding the plot summary interesting, I purchased it. Since then it has been one of my favorite films and just two years ago I began a tradition of watching it every Christmas.
What I like best about Love Actually, apart from Emma Thompson's outstanding performance throughout the film and the scene where Mark (Andrew Lincoln) confesses his hopeless devotion to Juliet (Keira Knightley), is it shows different pictures of affection—grade school infatuation, office romance, love between siblings, love for the departed, fatherly love, marriage, love for country, and love that crosses language barriers. Not all of these pictures are beautiful, however, and the film is not ashamed to slap you in the face and scream, "There isn't always a happy ending, especially in love!" yet it is quick to encourage that despite whatever undesirable elements of the picture there are, "love actually is [still] all around."
You may have thought it, so let me assure you: watching a romance film all alone on Christmas Day is not as tragic as it seems. Or at least not as tragic as watching dozens of romance films to desensitize one's self in preparation for all one's eyes might encounter in public and in the media on Valentine's Day. Speaking of which, look, another ensemble romcom named after a popular holiday!
Valentine's Day received a lot of bad reviews despite its box office success. But I have no complaints, except that perhaps it was too long for a romantic comedy. Still, the episodic plot served to satisfy my attention span. And that many actors is no problem with me, as long as they portray their roles well. Honestly, how can people stand two hours of a story revolving only around one couple?
Here's another ensemble romcom: He's Just Not That Into You. It also slaps you in the face, but this time with less subtlety because it is not associated with a holiday that should have everyone feeling good about themselves, and this time with the reality that not all the consoling words people tell you after you've gotten your heart broken are helpful. That cute boy in school isn't picking on you because he secretly likes you. The guy you just had a date with last night isn't calling you because he wants to avoid seeming desperate. Consider the possibility the movie title itself presents: he simply might not be that into you (softened for the easily offended). "Expect the worst," as George Lopez's character said in Valentine's Day. At least if something good happens, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Makes sense.
I hear they're creating a follow-up to Valentine's Day for next year. Guess what it is. New Year's Eve. Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Biel reportedly will still be part of the cast, but not to reprise their previous roles. Almost all popular holidays have an ensemble romantic comedy occurring around them now. Will New Year's Eve become a box office hit just like Valentine's Day? Will it receive mostly negative reviews from critiques despite its success just like its predecessor did? Will they also make an ensemble romance film for Halloween? We shall find out in a year or two.