On the occasion of Love Actually's tenth anniversary, the Cut team was discussing the phenomenal staying power of this sentimentality supercut when we realized — to our surprise — that many of the biggest fans we knew were dudes.
These men ranged from romantic comedy enthusiasts (only the good kind, no "Freddie Prinze Jr. garbage," they insisted) to bros who made a rom-com exception only for this particular serving of eggnog. Some bros found that liking Love Actually attracted women; other bros found that it is a film best enjoyed alone. A couple men confidently admitted to crying; a few said they have watched it over two dozen times; one bro referred to "Love Actually season." Almost all the bros called Alan Rickman "Snape." One bro called Emma Thompson "Hillary Clinton."
Ethan, a comedy writer, offered one theory as to why men love Love Actually: It's relationship porn, he explained. It's "just a lot of scenes about love. You can even fast-forward it to your favorite scene, not missing out on anything. Mostly, it's embarrassing if you're caught watching it alone, surrounded by tissues." He admits, though, that he does "kinda embarrassingly" like it.
Let the bros say, without hope or agenda, to them, this movie is perfect:
Sidney, 33, start-ups. (Favorite story line: Hugh Grant)
Lots of guys love it. In fact, I threw a Christmas party last year and decided to hide some money from a Vegas trip in my Love Actually DVD so it didn't get stolen by a random. You'd think it would be safe, but my friends found my cash before midnight because they wanted to watch the movie.
By the way, I have a backup copy, just in case the first case is empty.
Daryl, 24, law school student. (Favorite story line: Hugh Grant)
The first time I saw Love Actually was with my best friend, the summer before going to college. We had just finished watching the entire first season of The O.C., and figured it was the next logical step. I think we were just trying to be ironic little punks, but we ended up loving that movie.
Ian, 26, start-up founder. (Favorite story lines: Daniel [Liam Neeson] and Sam [Thomas Sangster], Jamie [Colin Firth] and Aurelia [Lucia Moniz])
Each of the story lines is perfectly interwoven and all contain aspects that are easy to relate to. I obviously relate most to Colin and the American girls. Ha-ha. No, but who hasn't held a secret unrequited crush, had to make the best of an awkward situation, or has had unfortunate circumstances ruin something potentially great?
Kyle, 24, marketing and branding. (Favorite story line: Keira Knightley)
Dead honest real story: So I definitely saw the movie for the first time when a bunch of high school girlfriends made all the guys watch it. It was absolutely the hopeless romantic side of me that drew me towards the Keira Knightley story line (the one with her husband's best friend — I am absolutely the best friend). Fast-forward to why I really started to love the movie: Through college I was absolutely in love with my best friend from high school. We just cared about the other person being completely happy and whatever that was that was the best thing — which is where the Keira Knightly story line comes in. Best friend shows up with card at door, confesses his love, gets kissed, and all is good.
Scott, 25, analyst. (Favorite story line: the stand-ins [Martin Freeman, Joanna Page])
"Love Actually Season" is just the same as a proper Christmas season, from Thanksgiving to New Years. It's a seasonal, group activity, like fireworks or like caroling. Watching it alone would be like riding a tandem bike by yourself — you could do it, if you wanted to ... But I think the movie is profoundly silly. I love watching the movie, but I don't love the movie.
Ethan, 24, comedy writer. (Favorite story line: Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson)
I relate to the woman that receives Joni Mitchell's Blue; I've been that woman. Blue is a great Christmas present.
Maybe men like it because there are so many beautiful women for them to fantasize about, in all the story lines.
Hugh, 31, consultant. (Favorite story line: Jamie and Aurelia)
I think our world has progressed to the point where there is no shame in either a man enjoying such a blatant exploitation of our emotions or a film fanatic enjoying a movie that is extremely commercial. It's just two hours that make you smile.
I would imagine men respond to one or two of the vignettes, and that's enough to keep the whole piece interesting (as it definitely moves around quickly enough). It's also quite funny. It's been ten years, and "festering turd of a record" is still something I say sometimes.
Brett, 29, private equity. (Favorite scenes: Liam Neeson and son; Billy Mack [Bill Nighy] and manager [Gregor Fisher])
My college roommates and I were like, It's a pretty good movie and we weren't very public about it. But you'd mention it to girls and they love it, and we'd get a bunch of girls and couple guys over and watch it. Everyone thinks Keira Knightley is very hot and thinks Hugh Grant is funny.
Tucker, 28, education start-up co-founder. (Favorite story lines: Hugh Grant, dancing; Keira Knightley)
I think a couple years after college I was getting over not being in college anymore. It was a nice, escapist thing: I'm not in college anymore, I'm bummed, I'll watch Love Actually.
It's hard as a guy to watch Love Actually with friends; it's something I would do hungover, alone. Just go watch Love Actually alone in my room.
Dan, 23, engineer. (Favorite story line: Jamie and Aurelia)
I've watched it at least twice around Christmas every year since I watched it the first time. Who doesn't love a good scene where people run through an airport after each other?
Anthony, 24, Ph.D. student (Favorite story line: Daniel)
Daniel — whose wife has just died after a long illness — is far and away the most emotionally wresting character of the film. The rest of the movie is romantic candy.
David, 28, administrative manager. (Favorite story lines: Jamie and Aurelia; Liam Neeson and son)
I love romantic comedies. Very much. I will watch them and I will cry 90 percent of the time, whether it's good or bad. I cry when Jamie is speaking to Aurelia in Portuguese at the end and she answers in English. You realize they both were living their lives realizing they would see this other person at the end. And there is a scene with Sam and Liam Neeson, where Sam runs to give Liam a hug.
Mariah Carey really makes the movie. It wasn't until Love Actually that I realized Mariah Carey made that song, and it's so ever-present in the movie. The Christmas music is an effective way to get you feeling nostalgic without realizing it.
Definitely, when I was a younger lad, I would see that guy that's in love with Keira Knightely, who's with his best friend, and you feel like you're so close to this person. Whether I was in love with my best friend's wife or not, I could definitely identify with this feeling, when you see this happiness and you're so jealous and you wish you could be them.