What Went Wrong With… Richard Curtis?

A caricature of Richard Curtis with a red love heart behind him

In the eighties, Richard Curtis was responsible for many classic comedies shown on British television. He was a writer for the fast-paced Not The Nine O’Clock News, the very first Comic Relief, a few episodes of Spitting Image, not to mention Black Adder and even Mr. Bean (when it was still funny). His greatest achievement was Bernard And The Genie, arguably one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time. In his twenties and thirties, Curtis wrote some of the funniest comedies to ever grace our TV sets, and aside from the blip of The Tall Guy, his filmography was immaculate… that was until the early nineties.

In 1994, Richard wrote Four Weddings And A Funeral, a bland and completely drab rom-com in which the comedy took a back-seat for a series of forgettable events tied together by Hugh Grant’s constant pompous bumbling. Four Weddings, though completely frothy and tedious, became Curtis’ biggest hit, and like a complete sellout he abandoned clever and quick-witted comedy and instead began focussing on hollow schmaltzy bullshit.

Four Weddings And A Funeral then became a blueprint for the kind of romantic-fluff that Richard Curtis would become known for. For the rest of the nineties and noughties, Curtis would unleash a tidal-wave of upper-middle-class tedium which would clutter our cinemas with vacuous “couples” movies intended for brain-dead arseholes on dates (which considering their choice of film will inevitably end in hatred and divorce).

Romantic comedies if done correctly can be great movies, just look at Groundhog Day or even Pretty Woman. When it comes to a Richard Curtis rom-com however, it seems there’s little “rom” and even less “com”. Notting Hill and Bridget Jones might have been successful at the box-office, but they were a complete u-turn from the likes of Bernard And The Genie and Black Adder. A posh British cast with an American lead (in order to sell the film to the US market) is now a template for a Richard Curtis movie, and because of idiotic fools, these films have become successful. This in turn has led Curtis to write more of them, and a new Curtis movie seems to pop up every few years like a conveyor-belt of upper-class shite.

Because of his success, Curtis has also began directing these travesties, and when Richard is responsible for multiple duties, the films are even more of a crock. The dire Love Actually, the abysmal The Boat That Rocked, and his latest crapfest About Time (a time-travel movie where surprise surprise; time travel is a side issue to the goo-filled soppy slush) are all examples of the kind of mawkish saccharine that plagues our cinemas, courtesy of Richard “I used to write classics” Curtis.

It seems that with age, a lot of artists become the very antithesis of their original selves. We have all seen various ex-rockers selling car insurance or butter in TV advertisements instead of continuing with their passion, and although Richard Curtis was never subversive or counter-culture, he did write some great scripts and screenplays that were both fun and funny.

It is inevitable that we all get old, but this does not mean we have to abandon what made us all great in the first place. Whatever your opinion and personality when you were young should remain at the core of your soul throughout your life. If you sell your soul, before you know it, you’ll be a spouse-whipped lame reflection of your parents, and even though you might have begun life young and cool, you will die old and lame. Judging from the last decade or so, Richard Curtis will most likely be the latter.




Read the related article - What Went Right With... Bernard And The Genie?

What Went Right With… Bernard And The Genie?


2 replies »

  1. Agree with all except “The Boat that Rocked”, it is a bit vacuous and typical white middles class but for anyone who loves music and is whimsical about the 60s, you may even enjoy it if you ignore the fact it’s from Richard Curtis. That being said, he is a massive Blairite bell-end and once ‘peace envoy’ Tony bLAIR is dragged into the Hague War Crimes Tribunal, lets hope they catch Curtis having tea with him and charge him with crimes against culture

  2. Are you telling me that this talentless hack who was behind Love Actually, Bridget Jones and Notting Hill also wrote Mr Bean and Blackadder? I must be imagining things!

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