Why 'Love, Actually' Is Still A Holiday Classic No Matter What The Haters Say

Universal Pictures

One of the best parts of the holiday season is indulging in annual traditions reserved just for for this special time of the year. It's all about visiting family, hanging out with friends, putting up decorations, and of course, cramming in all the holiday-themed music and movies you don't even think about the other 11 months of the year. If you're burnt out on Christmas-specific kids' fare and the last round of shopping's left you feeling less-than-charitable towards your fellow people, it might be time to pull out the big guns: Love Actually, the ultimate romantic (and sometimes bittersweet) comedy that'll leave you ready to hang some more mistletoe instead of hanging up your Santa hat. Here's where to watch Love Actually, though if you're going for the full-immersion experience, you'll have to provide your own boom box and cue cards.

Unfortunately, Love Actually isn't currently streaming on any of the usual services (Netflix, HBO, etc.) but you can rent it through Amazon, Fandango, Vudu and Microsoft for $2.99, or spend a dollar more to rent it from the Apple store in HD. It's also available to buy from Amazon for $7.99, and from Apple, Fandango, Vudu, and Microsoft for $9.99. If you want to wrap it up and stick it under the tree, Barnes and Noble is selling the latest blu-ray with director commentary for a mere $13.99. And with two-day shipping, you can fuss with the wrapping and add more glitz and glam to it for days, until Alan Rickman himself would cry foul.

If you're somehow unfamiliar, Love, Actually follows the grand tradition of our most beloved Christmas-themed films, adding a dose of sour along with the sweet to make us appreciate what we have all the more. The trend started all the way back with It's A Wonderful Life, which opens with a man contemplating suicide, and follows up with a good chunk of the film spent seeing how terrible life would be for others without him. All that buildup only serves to make his return to what he now realizes is (indeed) a wonderful life all the sweeter. Though if they remade the film today, that banker would get tarred, feathered, and run out of town, if we're being honest.

When it comes to Love Actually, though, Peter and Juliet getting married is absolutely charming and totally the true-love fantasy we want to buy into, but the unfinished heartbreak of Harry and Karen brings it into sharp focus, and the awkwardness of John and Judy's completely unsexy stand-in sex scenes is probably a lot closer to our everyday lives.

Funny enough, the Harry and Karen story was resolved years later, during a midnight screening of the film. According to The Independent, script writer Emma Freud, wife of the film's director Richard Curtis, live-tweeted her experience and revealed a lot more about the film's unresolved storylines. When it came to Karen, Freud said she'd watched actor Emma Thompson go through the heartbreaking scene where she receives a Joni Mitchell CD seven times, bawling each one. In response to a fan's question about the couple's resolution, Freud had this to say.

Sticking with a love that's permanently bent might be the most heartbreaking outcome of all. But fortunately, Love, Actually has enough romantic door-to-door action from Hugh Grant's smitten Prime Minister David searching for Natalie and Mark cue-carding his feelings to Juliet to balance out the all-too-real sadness.

Hopefully the movie will set you right back on the holiday track, putting you in the mood for chestnuts roasting by an open fire. And if not, don't worry, there's a couple of other ways you can decompress during the holidays instead. Plus, there's no stopping you rewatching the film come February, if that's what you prefer.