We watched Love, Actually last night, and I can confidently say that it was one of the worst movies I've seen lately. That's a shame, too, because it had a wonderful ensemble cast. Ignoring politics and pecadillos, it's usually a pleasure to watch Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman (all of whom have appeared in Jane Austen-based movies), Bill Nighy, and Liam Neeson, to name but a few of the movie's actors. In this movie, however, though they labored mightily, they never could overcome a story that my husband characterized first as "Velveeta," and then downgraded to "utter garbage." The situations were trite, the relationships patently false, the dialogue silly, and on and on. Of course, I don't usually post to announce that I've seen a bad movie. If I did that, I'd be posting every other day, since Netflix does result in our seeing an enormous amount of drek. No, I post because of one very peculiar plot turn in the movie. (This might be something of a spoiler coming up, but because the movie is so dreadful and predictable, I'm not too worried. You either (a) won't want to see the movie anyway or (b) you'll have seen this plot point coming a mile away.) Hugh Grant plays a newly elected Prime Minister whose unmarried state is his defining characteristic. Immediately upon entering 10 Downing Street, he secretly begins lusting after the girl who brings him his tea and biscuits. At about the same time, he advises his cabinet with respect to an upcoming visit from the President of the United States that, even though he agrees with them in strongly disagreeing with the President's policies, he's planning on making nice during the visit -- so as not to give the impression of a petulant or spoiled child. The President, played by a snake-like Billy Bob Thornton, duly appears, and makes it clear that he's in the power seat and will do nothing that the British want. The humiliation, of course, is complete, but the Prime Minister takes it in silence. Then, after the PM leaves the room for a minute, he returns to find the President -- who is married -- locked in an embrace with the luscious tea girl. The PM retires in confusion but, as he was not when his country was insulted, now he's angry. Cut to a joint press conference, with the President and the PM each at a podium. President mouths some platitudes about friendship, working together, status quo. The PM, fired by sexual jealously, announces that he's mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore. No longer will the British people be bullied by Americans who are not looking out for England's best interests. The music swells, the hall erupts into cheers, and the scene ends. Aside from being dreadfully written, there were a couple of things about this scene that left me laughing. First, although it's clearly meant to be a slap at President Bush and the Iraq war, the movie shows the fictional President as a womanizing Southerner, which the movie's writers seem to see as an adequate tip-off that this man is a bad character. I don't think they intended to invoke Clinton's ghost, but they did. Second, I found incredibly amusing to see this "bleat" of Independence (it was too whiny to be a "declaration"). It's been more than two hundred years since the real deal -- the real break with Britain, baptized with blood -- and now the best that the British can come up with in return is a weak, jealous, fictional Prime Minister whining in a press conference about how America won't have Britain to kick around any more. Imagine, if our forefathers hadn't had the incredibly courage, principles and (yes) self-interest to make the break, we'd still be part of this morally weak little country.