Notting Hill: Ultimate Edition

January 28, 2012 11 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

William Thacker (Hugh Grant) owns a travel bookstore, that is, a bookstore that sells only books about travel. He’s a regular guy, he works, shares a flat with a grungy guy, and does normal things. He is struggling to keep his store open, and is having trouble finding someone he can spend his life with. Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) on the other hand, is the world’s most famous movie star. She captivates audiences across the globe, and is adored by millions. Scott is hardly struggling, pulling in fifteen million dollars for her last picture. But she shares something with Thacker, she can’t seem to find that special someone either. Thacker is working at the bookstore as usual one day, when Anna comes inside his shop. He does not treat her any different than any other customer, even leaving her ask another customer to remove a book from his trousers. Scott buys a book, then leaves, with Thacker wondering what just happened. Thacker then leaves to get some drinks, and bumps into Scott, spilling orange juice all over her. The two go to Thacker’s flat so that Anna can change clothes, and by the end of the encounter, Anna kisses William, and they’re both in love. But Anna has a boyfriend and a busy life, and Thacker has a self esteem problem, so nothing comes of it right there and then. But after a second meeting, the two hit off, and have a great time. But after that, they fall apart from each other again, and end up no better off. Thacker gets more and more attached as time goes by, and so does Anna. Can they put their very different worlds aside and focus on their love, or will Hollywood ruin yet another potential Love Connection? Will Spike ever learn any manners and become a normal, clean member of society?

In case you didn’t know, Notting Hill is made by the same folks who brought us Four Weddings and a Funeral, so you if you’ve seen that, you’ve got an idea of what to expect. But while the films are similar, they are not the same film. Notting Hill is a romantic comedy, yes, but I think most romantic comedies are heavy on the romance and lacking in the comedy. Notting Hill defies that rule, however, filled to the brim with humor of all kinds, from crude to high brow to satire, this film has a joke or two included for everyone. There is a touching romantic storyline here as well, which at times gets somber, but for the most part, comic relief is always there to help you through the tear jerking parts. Don’t be fooled by the term romantic comedy with Notting Hill, this movie is not just for girls or couples, this film is fun for everyone!

The obvious reason for Notting Hill’s success is the chemistry between Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. The two work very well together, and play off one another quite nicely. This pair is one of the best I have seen as far as chemistry in a romantic comedy. Grant (Nine Months, Sirens) is as good as ever, playing his common man role to a tee. While he is not thought of for his comedic acting, he is brilliant as a comic, as evidenced in both this picture and Nine Months, a previous effort. Grant seems to be type cast as the male in romantic comedies, but as long as they are as good as Notting Hill, I’ll check them all out. Roberts (Pretty Woman, My Best Friend’s Wedding) also seems to show up more often than not in romantic comedies. I like her work, but I don’t think she fares well outside of the genre she is best known for. Also working some comedy magic is Rhys Ifans (The Replacements, Kevin & Perry Go Large), who plays Grant’s flat mate, Spike. Spike generates some of the biggest laughs in this film, and helps keep Grant’s character is decently high spirits. Also starring in Notting Hill are Hugh Bonneville, Alec Baldwin, Emma Chambers, and Gina McKee.

Notting Hill is a film that appeals to a broad range of movie lovers, with a little bit of something for everyone. If you liked Four Weddings or Pretty Woman, or you’re a fan of romantic comedies, odds are you will love Notting Hill. It’s the most comical romantic comedy I’ve seen to date, and has some splendid performances as well. While some stay away from Grant’s films, fearing English humor, this movie’s humor does not get lost in the translation. Don’t be led astray, Notting Hill is a great love story, but it smothered with laughter and gags, so don’t expect a bone dry date movie, like many romantic movies are. So next time you need to laugh, and feel the desire to see a man eat mayonnaise, pop in Notting Hill, it’s a great movie. And with this new double disc Ultimate Edition release, you get even more of the extras and audio options we’ve come to love, at a low price. If you own this film and wish to upgrade, that’s a good idea if you ask me and if you don’t own this great flick yet, then make sure you pick up this new two disc edition, it’s a terrific release indeed.

Video: How does it look?

Notting Hill is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, while a full frame edition can be found on the second disc in the set. This is the same transfer found on the previous collector’s edition release and since it looked great, that means this one does as well. The warm color scheme is presented in fine form here, via accurate hues and natural flesh tones, no problems in the least in this area. Just as impressive is the contrast, thanks to dead on black levels and an always proper level of detail, just splendid work indeed.

Audio: How does it sound?

This is a romantic comedy driven by dialogue, so even with dual 5.1 surround options in Dolby Digital and DTS, you won’t shake the windows with this disc. But then again, you wouldn’t want to and as such, these tracks won’t disappoint in the least, I assure you. This material doesn’t allow for much surround presence, so aside from the music and a few exceptions, this is a front channel based event, which works well enough. The main focus is on the dialogue it sounds excellent here, each word is crisp and always easy to understand, very impressive work. I compared the tracks at length and while the DTS shows an edge in a few scenes, there’s not as much of a difference as you might expect. Each disc includes both tracks, as well as a French 2.0 surround option and subtitles in English & Spanish.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This release packs in the extras included on the prior Collector’s Edition, but also boasts some new goodies, which is always welcome. The audio commentary track with director Roger Mitchell, producer Duncan Kenworthy, and writer Richard Curtis isn’t the best session I’ve heard, but it has grown on me, I have to admit. I often listen to these tracks a few times and while this one was dull to me the first time, it has become better with repeat sessions, so I more than recommend it to fans, you’ll be informed and entertained with these guys. A couple of featurettes can also be found here, one that dissects a very cool shot from the film and the other is a basic behind the scenes piece, with interviews and clips from the flick. If you’ve seen other Spotlight On Location featurettes, then you know what to expect from the latter, while the former was quite interesting and a welcome inclusion indeed. A selection of deleted scenes also makes the cut here and while none are substantial, it is still cool to have them, if even just for reference sake. This release also includes a photo montage, production notes, DVD ROM content, Hugh Grant’s movie tips, a Travel Book of the film’s locations, some talent files, two music videos, music highlights, and both the US & international theatrical trailers for the flick.

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