Is Love Actually the best all-star romantic comedy?
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!