The Ultimate Romantic Comedy Actually


14 February 2011| No Comments on The Ultimate Romantic Comedy Actually     by Sean Chavel


Love Actually (2003) is the ultimate romantic comedy. The tagline says so. They might have also been able to advertise the soundtrack as the ultimate corny romantic soundtrack. My woman makes me watch it every Christmas. And when I say my woman, I mean every woman I’ve ever had has made me. Actually, in all honesty, it is pretty darn wonderful. Keira Knightley does not have an underbite, she has a beautiful smile. Of the ten interlocking stories, I’m only dissuaded by the Colin Firth storyline. Hugh Grant has never been funnier, he’s only gone down since putting himself out there as a whoring fuddy duddy in an attempt to repeat the magic of “Love Actually” but has instead fallen into second-rate rom-coms.

This ultimate flick is not available on Netflix instant viewing. Either you own it already to watch on Valentine’s Day with your honey-bunny or you don’t. If you don’t you will have to pick something else. I recommend Soul Kitchen (2010), the great grown-up romantic comedy of the last five years. I also think it’s one of the great feel-good movies in general. It’s in German with English subtitles.

God forbid, I have to read subtitles?! Oh, the agony! But what’s probably keeping you from jumping onto it is not the fear of reading subtitles but the fear that because it’s foreign it must mean it’s slow-moving. It’s not. There’s hardly a smarter comedy that I can point to that moves more crisply and confidently.

Adam Bousdoukos is a German of Greek descent with Jim Morrison chisels – girls will like him. Anna Bederke and Pheline Roggan are girls next door that are yummy – guys will like them. “Soul Kitchen” restauranteur Zinos (Bousdoukos) is a happy dude with the unhappy problem of his girlfriend leaving for Shanghai, and a business he wants to hold onto for reasons of pride. Zinos’ urgent hurdles include dealing with his ex-con brother who wants to be restaurant manager, his battles with health inspectors, and competitors with hidden agendas. He needs a new chef, a new business revamp, a new cute physical therapist – well he doesn’t need his physical therapist to be cute, but it doesn’t hurt. Your eyes may gaze upon the food in the movie, but it’s the torsos in tight dance clothes that transfix you. These are pe0ple into quick gratification, too, so it’s not like you have to wait a long time for them to act on their desires either.

This is the kind of smart, adult-themed comedy that most grown-ups crave but rarely get. This is the kind of movie in the vein of “Sideways” (2004) or “The Squid and the Whale” (2005) or “Mumford” (1999) or “Flirting with Disaster” (1996) or “Lost in America” (1985) or… hopefully you get the point. Comedies for brainy and well-travelled people. It’s up there with the smartest of Coen Brothers or James L. Brooks comedies, too.

The director of “Soul Kitchen” is Fatih Akin, a Turk raised in Germany, who has made two brilliant head-spinning if downbeat dramas previous with “Head-On” (2004) and “The Edge of Heaven” (2007). If there is something that he is superb in doing it’s placing multi-ethnic characters into stories where ethnic differences are wonderfully excavated. And his characters are always into travelling, migrating, exploring in a way that’s natural as oxygen. When observing how his characters dictate their lives, they are dictating the direction of their own stories. There never is a plot machine that dictates them.

Laughs, sex, music, dance floor grinding, excitement, romance, lust, predicaments. Netflix instant viewing this month in February. “Love Actually” search in stores for any other time this year. That should be your nice back-up choice.  But “Soul Kitchen” could be your new number #1 go-to movie, actually.

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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