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HALL OF FAMEon September 6, 2003
Hugh Grant's role as Travel Book Shop employee William Thacker reprises the same shy, humble, lovable, but lonely character with a small group of friends that made him a star in Four Weddings And A Funeral. That may be because Notting Hill, like FW&AF, was written by Richard Curtis. "And so it was another hopeless Wednesday when I walked a thousand yards to work, not suspecting that this was going to be the day my life would be changed forever." In two words, that catalyst is Anna Scott, currently one of Hollywood's biggest stars, who is promoting her latest film Helix, a sci-fi film whose costume design and one interior setting owes a nod to Kubrick's 2001. She happens in his bookshop, but that first meeting sets off a series of meetings where they spend time with each other.
Eccentric barely describes Spike, his Welsh roommate with a shock of wild blond hair. Never have I seen a more comical opposites since Felix and Oscar of the Odd Couple. Spike is clearly the Oscar of the pair, but then again, I doubt if Oscar would have worn a T-shirt saying, "Get It Here", with an arrow pointing downwards, or unwittingly mistake mayonnaise for yogurt.
In the course of meeting Anna, he in turn introduces her to his small group, including a married couple, Max and Belle, the latter in a wheelchair, a stockbroker named Bernie, and William's wild-looking sister Honey, whose bulging eyes and feathery hair makes her nevertheless lovable in a different sort of way.
However, they live in two different worlds. As William puts it, "I live in Notting Hill, you live in Beverly Hills." Both have different schedules, lifestyles, and perspectives on things. Yet his inner smile lights up whenever she pops in and spends some time with him. And applying a metaphor used, Anna is a goddess. "You know what happens to mortals who get involved with the gods?" That's terrible for William, who confides in Spike that it's like "taking love heroin and I couldn't have it again. I've opened Pandora's Box and there's trouble inside."
Anna is a typical box-office draw who has to put up with the tail side of the fame coin. The many boyfriends, the laying out of her private life in the tabloids, but also how she's unable to live an ordinary life and how she has to put up with unkind words, as when she overhears a group of businessmen saying how actresses are equal to prostitutes and that she is the definitive actress. Ouch! But despite the fame, in the end, she's "just a girl asking a boy to love her."
The one pullback aerial shot that has the couple approaching the bench dedicated to a loved one, while Ronan Keating sings Keith Whitley's "When You Say Nothing At All" was a perfect combination of great camera work enhanced by a haunting love song.
Hugh Grant has another winning role and seems to have the knack of starring opposite great female leads and being compatible. Be it Andie McDowell (Four Weddings) or Emma Thompson (Sense And Sensibility), he does himself and Julia Roberts great credit. After seeing this at the theatre when it first came out, I sighed with relief that I finally found the most charming movie with Julia Roberts since Pretty Woman. All the actors portraying Williams' small circle also lend great support, but Rhys Ifan steals the show as the outlandish Spike. Those who liked Four Weddings will definitely go for Notting Hill, which has a tad more sweetness, like apricot and honey.
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on May 9, 2011
As Notting Hill is one of my most favorite movies I had to give it five stars. The Blu-ray picture looks great. The extra "Spotlight on Location" featurette (14.5 minutes) and music videos: "She" by Elvis Costello and "You've got a Way" by Shania Twain are a nice bonus. That said let me move on to a technicality. This is evidently a UK bluray edition? I am not a terribly observant guy. No nitpicking here, but even I noticed that the final song during the credits: "No Matter What" was missing. Instead we hear "From the Heart". I double checked with my dvd copy and I was not mistaken. I have no idea what else might have been changed. I have no intention of running the two versions side by side. I will leave that to others more interested. I didn't notice anything else on the first run so I am satified, but..... Oops, just noticed that the feature commentary from the dvd version is missing.
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on March 21, 2002
Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant each appeared in two movies in the summer of 1998. Roberts starred in the smash hit, Runaway Bride, while Grant had top billing in the unsuccessful Mikey Blue Eyes. All this proves is that she can carry a picture, and he can't. Business and star politics aside, Notting Hill is easily the best summer movie they were in.
The plot is as preposterous as they come, but this is permitted in romantic comedy. Grant plays William Thacker, who runs a little travel bookstore on Portobello Road in London's Notting Hill district. Roberts is Anna Scott, the biggest female movie star on the planet. This is amusing in itself, since Roberts is exactly that in real life. On location in England, Scott wanders into William's shop one afternoon. He doesn't even recognize her until a customer does. Later, he runs into in the street, where he spills orange juice all over the both of them. Accepting an invitation to clean herself up, she goes to his flat. Emotions begin to smolder. What unfolds is by the book boy meets girl, boy loses girl, etc., but it's all done in witty, bright and sophisticated fashion.
Notting Hill utilizes two of the oldest Hollywood romantic devices - the two main characters have failed at love, and they come from social scenes that are polar opposites. Its writer and director are shrewd enough to know that these are tensions which can add the comedy to romance. She flounders in his world, and we laugh. He stumbles in hers, and we laugh still more. Even in the inevitable scene where their world collide, and the romance seems doomed, we find amusement.
This is the best and most successful British comedy [excluding their trademark period pieces] since Four Weddings and a Funeral, which also had but one major American character. We get a parade of those eccentric English characters we adore. By far the funniest is Spike [Rhys Ifans], who is William's ditzy, clueless flat mate. Most of his best scenes cannot be written down for a family publication, but I can say that they are bawdy, as opposed to tawdry. Spike does not know how to dress, how to carry on a conversation longer than two sentences or how to react normally to life's simplest situations. He may be the one character who is most likely to also exist in the real world. Ifans is almost assured of receiving a Best Supporting Actor nomination next spring.
Roberts and Grant are in top form. She doesn't grin her way out of every emotional moment, and he keeps his trademark stutter in check. It's hard to say how much real chemistry there is between them, but it hardly matters, because they are two of the most charming and affable actors on the screen today. Their performance are right up their with what I consider to be their best - she in My Best Friend's Wedding, he in Sense and Sensibility.
The photography is excellent. One scene, in which William walks along Portobello Road as the seasons change, is remarkable. It's one of those complex-to-do creations that comes off as seamless and simple. Also of note is a moment where Spike, in his underwear, unwittingly opens the flat door and walks into a sea of screaming, photo-snapping journalists. It is a classic comedic moment.
I don't think it matters all that much that the plot is a tried and true one. After all, the point isn't whether or not you paint a landscape, but how well you paint it. If Notting Hill were a painting, it wouldn't be a masterpiece, but it would be very pleasing to the eye nonetheless.
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on August 15, 2002
Notting Hill - You either love it or you hate it, and since you don't spend this much money on a DVD without knowing whether or not you like the film this review is purely about the extras on the DVD, ultimate edition. When I was trying to choose between the Collectors Edition and the Ultimate Edition I couldn't find any helpful reviews so here is the first Amazon review I have ever written.
Disc 1 -
Widescreen version of the film. Choice of English or French language, English captions and Spanish subtitles. Since I can't read Spanish I don't know what the difference between captions and subtitles is.
Feature commentary (subtitles available) - The Writer, Director and Producer talk over the whole film, providing a wonderful glimpse behind the scenes. Non-stop anecdotes about filming, props, sets, stars and supporting cast. The history of the blue door and the fate of garden benches. Why the entire production crew had to dress up in jackets and ties. Which of those locations were in fact sets on a sound studio and loads of other stuff that makes you view the film with a fresh eye. If you are still in love with Anna Scott and Wil Thacker, don't watch this as it does, to some extent, take away the magic of the story.
Spotlight on location (subtitles available) - 14:00 minutes - Scenes from the film with chat from the writer, director, producer, Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant, Emma Chambers and Hugh Bonneville.
Seasonal walk down Portobello Road - 3:30 minutes - Disappointingly short but very interesting. The Special Effects Supervisor explains just how they filmed Hugh's one minute walk through six months of London's weather changes.
Deleted Scenes - 6 scenes cut from the finished film. Many others are mentioned during the feature commentary but these are entertaining enough although personally I am glad they didn't make it to the final version. William tries to tell his parents, another blind date at the dinner table, Spike serves Anna pepperoni pizza, Spike messing things up even more after Anna leaves, Spike giving wedding day interviews to the media and an alternative ending set in Tony's prospering restaurant.
Music Highlights - Direct jumps to nine songs from the movie
Recommendations - Just a trailer for Erin Brockovich
Travel Book - About three pages of text from a (very poor) travel guide to Notting Hill with a map and list of restaurants. I felt very cheated as I was expecting a live tour of the real Notting Hill; hoping for something like a thirty minute documentary you might see on the travel channel.
Production Notes - About a dozen pages of text, much of which is mentioned in the commentary.
Cast and Film Makers - Brief Bios of the main actors, the writer, producer and director.
DVD Newsletter - Web address to register for on-line newsletter. It didn't inspire me to register so I can't tell you anything about it.
DVD-ROM - If you have the hardware on your computer there 'might' be access to wallpapers, screen savers and internet sites. It doesn't say exactly what and since I don't have a DVD-ROM I can't tell you anything else.
Disc 2
Full screen version of the film - Language and subtitles the same as disc 1
Feature Commentary - Same as disc 1
Music Highlights - Same as disc 1
Travel Book - Same as disc 1
Production Notes - Same as disc 1
Cast and Film Makers - Same as disc 1
DVD Newsletter - Same as disc 1
DVD-ROM - Same as disc 1
Hugh Grant's Movie Tips - 4:00 minutes - Disappointingly short. Meet his parents and some of the crew.
Elvis Costello video - Elvis Costello singing his version of 'She'. This video gave me a headache. There are only four verses but I lost count at 50 camera jumps from Elvis in the theatre, Elvis sitting down and Elvis standing outside. Some clips from the film included
Shania Twain video - Cute video of Shania singing 'You've got a way' with some clips from the film. Nicely done.
Photograph Montage - 4:45 minutes - This I thought was going to be another space filler but I was very pleasantly surprised. Stills from the film and a few behind the scenes shots set to the Anna and Wil music score by Trevor Jones. I found it amazing how much more I saw in a still that I missed in the film. Very well chosen pictures and beautiful music.
US Theatrical Trailer - 2:45 minutes - As seen in American Theatres
International Theatrical Trailer - 2:10 minutes - As seen in English Theatres - These two trailers are totally different and really bring home the cultural differences between England and America. I was surprised to see clips from a deleted scene here.
There it is. If you got this far, thanks for reading. By the way, I loved the film. Like Four Weddings and a Funeral it is just so English. Being English myself, from London, with a crush on Hugh Grant, I am of course extremely biased.
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on March 8, 2000
Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts prove in Notting Hill that a movie about love in the '90's can be tender and poignant without graphic sex and profane language. I saw it several times and plan to buy it as soon as it is available. It is a movie you can watch with a date. The soundtrack, especially "She", makes a great connection between old-fashioned love and modern musical expression. For anyone who wants their faith in humanity and love restored, Notting Hill is the perfect movie. Realism is sometimes not as necessary as a breath of fresh romantic air.
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on January 23, 2004
Ask people if they've seen Notting Hill, and most of them say, 'The one with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts? The one with that roommate from hell who answers the door in his skivvies and then postures for the paparazzi? That one? Yeah, sure. Who WAS that guy, anyway?' He's Rhys Ifans, and he damn near steals the movie. Each time he's on the screen, he's the only one you watch, just to see what gauche and disgusting stunt he's going to come up with next.
But the movie, the movie...
They don't really make romantic comedies like this anymore, pure fairy tale with more than a few deep bows of gratitude to Roman Holiday. The setup is that a very famous actress stumbles into a London bookseller and she and the bookstore owner fall in love. But there's this huge difference in lifestyle. Can love triumph? Well, duh...
The movie is fluff, pure fantasy, and it requires a huge suspension of belief - but it's wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. See it with someone you love and just sit back and enjoy a great evening.
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on February 18, 2002
I am not a big fan of romantic comedies in general, but "Notting Hill" is one of my favorite movies. "Notting Hill" is a love story between travel book store owner, William Thacker played by Hugh Grant, and world famous actress, Anna Scott played by Julia Roberts. There is a special chemistry between Grant and Roberts that I seldom see in modern films. There's a perfect blend of romance and comedy. Rhys Ifans, who plays Thacker's flatmate Spike, adds to the comedy. The soundtrack is also wonderful, and includes the beautiful song, "She". This movie might have been billed as a "chick-flick" but both my wife and I enjoyed it immensely. "Notting Hill" is highly recommended.
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on September 15, 2013
This story by Richard Curtis is a wonderfully entertaining romantic comedy. I have watched this movie probably more than 15 times and it remains magical. Hugh Grant is simply excellent here and the chemistry between him and Julia Roberts works perfectly. The Blu-ray transfer is super particularly with the 1080P high definition picture. It was very much worth upgrading to this from my DVD version.
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on November 19, 2013
This is a Classic. Full of British comedy and romance. Hugh Grant's sensitivity and handsome awkwardness combined with Rhys Ifans' scene-stealing portrayal of Spike is truly outstanding. Wish there were more movies of this quality.
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on April 27, 2006
Ever since watching Notting Hill when it first came out I knew it was one of those films that was going to be one of my all time favourites!

Unlike the ordinary romantic comedies where I can find myself getting bored, this had me entertained throughout! Spike was a character who had me in stiches and I thought the relationship between Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant came across very believable.

I would recommend this film to people who enjoy a giggle and also who enjoy a good love story and you don't even have to be a huge Hugh Grant fan to enjoy this - as I am certainly not!
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