Can any all-star romantic comedy measure up to 'Love Actually'?

It seems like just about every day there’s new casting news regarding the upcoming big-screen adaptation of Heidi Murkoff’s pregnancy bible What To Expect When You’re Expecting. Yesterday, we announced that Chace Crawford has joined the ever-expanding ensemble, which already includes — so far — Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Anna Kendrick, Brooklyn Decker, Elizabeth Banks, Rob Huebel, and Bridesmaids‘ breakout Rebel Wilson. Phew!

But does a growing cast mean growing anticipation for a film? After all, a great all-star cast doesn’t always translate to a great all-around film. (See: Bobby.) And all too often over the past year, our attitudes while watching all-star comedies have shifted from, “Wow, that’s an amazing line-up of stars!” to “Wow, that’s a whole lot of people crammed into one movie!”? I certainly felt the latter with the releases of 2009’s frustrating He’s Just Not That Into You and 2010’s insufferable Valentine’s Day. But will similarily star-packed flicks New Year’s Eve (which features, among many others, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zac Efron, Jessica Biel, Robert DeNiro, Josh Duhamel, Lea Michele, Ashton Kutcher, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Sofia Vergara) and What To Expect hold the same fate? Or can they pull off a Love Actually?

I’m hoping they can. Unlike the other aforementioned all-star films already released, Love Actually simply worked. And regardless of its A-list cast, it hardly felt as though you were star-gazing while watching the film. It was an ensemble piece that gave equal love, actually, to its heavy hitters (Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley) and its equally talented — but slightly lesser-known, to U.S. audiences, at least — stars (Martin Freeman, Martine McCutcheon, Andrew Lincoln, Rodrigo Santoro). Of course, it didn’t hurt that the romantic comedy dared to combine more dramatic elements into the movie — Thompson and Laura Linney’s storylines hardly get wrapped up nicely with a Christmas bow, but they were exactly what the movie needed to balance a story about human connection.

So fingers crossed What to Expect takes a few notes from Actually. Give Huebel as much screentime as Lopez. Make us fall for the film with more than pratfalls. And dear God, please just be better than Valentine’s Day.

Could What To Expect and New Year’s Eve actually achieve Love Actually standards? Do you like when movies have big, all-star casts or does it feel like they’re trying too much at once? Does a lot of famous names mean they — or the storylines — will all click? Let us know what you think!

Read more:
Jennifer Lopez signs on for ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’
Elizabeth Banks and Rob Huebel join ‘What To Expect When You’re Expecting’
Brooklyn Decker pregnant with twins — for ‘What to Expect’ parenting comedy

Comments (58 total) Add your comment
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  • alex

    No. No other movie can..

    • Ashleigh

      Completely agree — Love Actually was something special.

      • marven gardens

        I hate Uncle Jamie

      • V

        It was special, and had a cast that is adored.

      • Emilio

        Does anyone really consider Love Actually a movie that sets a standard? Really?

      • lynne

        For its genre (Christmas/holiday crowd pleaser), yes it did set a standard especially the way Richard Curtis managed to balance 10 story lines with such a large cast. It captured the right mood, tone and pace for a popcorn flick.

    • LOL

      Love Actually was pure crap.

  • Scott

    Actually, No

  • cj

    FINALLY – some love for Love Actually. What a perfect jewel of a movie, and the soundtrack is equally good :-)

  • Torrence5

    “Love, Actually” works b/c it is a nice blend of drama and comedy with innocense and longing mixed in. The relationship btwn the porn stand-ins is so funny and their brief scenes so unbelievable I laughed out loud. And when Emma realizes the neckless is for someone else and listens to the cd and the songs “Clouds” – I wanted to cry with her. Great balance, great cast, and fantastic movie.

    • Angie

      Or when Keira Knightley’s character finds out her husband’s friend is in love with her and he leaves but keeps almost going back….my heart just breaks for him!

    • brody

      The song she listens to is “actually” Both Sides Now.

  • anonymous

    Probably not.Its very hard to tell more than two or three stories in one 90-120 minute movie without them feeling underdeveloped or rushed. And most modern American romantic comedies lack the charm and heart that British romantic comedies have.

    • Amy

      Oh, well, sorry. *rolls eyes*

  • A Fan

    Sorry,no. That move was great in it’s simplicity. I still laugh everytime I see Hugh Grant dance. Good luck “What to Expect”.

  • Stacie

    With Robert Altman gone, I think it’s kind of impossible to do an ensemble piece of quality in Hollywood.

    • m1

      Ah, Gosford Park. Such a wonderful, intriguing film.

  • Andy

    I know I’m in the minority on this one, but ‘Love Actually’ is not a good movie. It’s manipulative dribble.

    • mlk

      You’re not alone, Love actually stunk. Bits were fine, but overall I thought it predictable and annoying. At the time I figured it’d be seen and forgotten. Surprised it’s remembered, let alone so fondly.

      • Bobby’s Robot

        Agree with Andy and mlk! Despite an ace cast and some nice moments, I couldn’t wait for it to end!

      • Emilio

        I always thought the movie was a recolection of mildly developed good ideas that would be better alone.

  • SB

    the casts of valentine’s day and he’s just not that into you could not hold a candle to the cast of love, actually, and it doesn’t look like what to expect’s cast will, either.

    • Erin

      Totally agree. The Love Actually cast is amazing

  • Lindsay

    Movies like Valentine’s Day and He’s Just Not That Into You really just felt like they were trying to fit as many stars as they could in one movie without focusing on plot details. Love Actually had an amazing plot and ACTUAL character development. Look forward to seeing What to Expect, let’s hope it goes in this LA’s route and not down the VD’s slope.

    By the way, nothing can top Love Actually…

    • zee

      i actually liked VD and HJNTITY but with VD the only story i remember clearly is the Ashton, Jen Garner & McDreamy one, with HJNTITY it’s the Ben & Jen one & the one with the needy chick but they are no match for LA i don’t think anything can compete with that

  • Lucy

    Love Actually is the best Christmas movie out there!!

    • HoneyB

      I don’t consider it a Christmas movie but a movie that takes place during Christmas.

  • Angie

    Love Actually was great because all of the stories intertwined somehow…one character knew someone else who was part of another story. I only saw He’s Just Not That Into You out of the ones mentioned above, but I remember my biggest disappointment was that the stories didn’t really connect. I was waiting for that as part of the end but it never did. Love Actually is untouchable in my opinion.

  • Marcie

    No, is be my answer.

    • Skip

      That made me smile

  • Monty

    1) Agreed, “Love, Actually” is the best Christmas movie (next to Die Hard).
    2) For me, it wasn’t the stars that made the movie, it was the script and the story that the stars brought to life. No amount of starpower can make up for bad writing.
    3) I had the advantage of having no idea what I was in for when I first saw LA. I was in film class and we closed the semester with it. Every time I saw a star, I became more and more surprised. I was even MORE surprised by the fact that I was actually enjoying a Romantic Comedy (that was the subject of the week). Its great even now to watch LA and see stars that are just now breaking out in a very big way.

    With “New Years Eve” and “What to Expect…”, the scripts need to be there. If they aren’t, they will be as bad as Valentine’s Day.

    • PATTY

      It’s one of our favorites. We watch it in Dec. around Christmas.
      I think it is enjoyed for its superior script and what the excellent actors do with it.
      I would like to see an extended version where some of the story lines which were cut are included.

    • PATTY

      Brilliant! I agree 100%

  • Amy

    Wasn’t a huge fan of Love Actually.

    That being said, I don’t think anything could be worse than Valentine’s Day.

    Oh wait-New Year’s Eve and What to Expect When You’re Expecting sound terrible already because it’s Where’s Waldo again.

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