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The Movie: Last year's feel good movie, Love Actually, came from the makers of Bridget Jones's Diary and Notting Hill, and has finally arrived on DVD. The movie itself was uplifting, humorous and fun as it intertwined various characters, and, as many films do these days, brought them all together at the end. While the film itself does run a bit long at 130 minutes, with all the intertwining storylines, it's hard to tell where the time goes most of the time with only a couple of lulls. Written and directed by Richard Curtis (his first direction), Love Actually follows various couples, singles, and others as they look for romance, partnership, and fulfillment during the holiday season. It'd take too much space to outline every storyline or talk about each plot twist, but suffice to say, Love Actually delivers a fun, romantic comedy that stands up through multiple viewings and never fails to bring a smile to your face.
Video: Presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1), the video quality is quite good. I didn't notice any artifacts and only the slightest bit of loss of detail in a few dark scenes. Though, once you get caught up in the film, it's quite hard to notice any of the very minor video flaws.
Sound: Presented in Dolby 5.1 for English and Dolby Surround for Spanish and French, Love Actually is a dialogue-driven film and therefore does not really benefit from the surround sound. The side and rear speakers are used occasionally for some sound effects or music, but, in all actuality, most of the film emanates from the center speaker. Dialogue is easy to understand (even for British accents) and sound effects do not drown out any dialogue that is necessary for the plot to advance.
Menus: The menus are very easy to navigate with very little extraneous effects. The background music is pleasant and enjoyable, though the loop is quite short and you can't let it sit for a while. Transitions between menus are quick and efficient without that long wait some DVDs force you to watch. The scene selection menus do not feature clips, but rather, just stills from each scene, without any sort of description of the scene, which could make it difficult to find the scene you want to jump to.
Commentary (with actors Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy, Thomas Sangster and Writer/Director Richard Curtis): Surprisingly enough, this is the first time the actors have seen the film in its entirety, so getting some of the reactions from Hugh Grant and the others is quite funny and interesting. The commentary itself doesn't delve much into the behind-the-scenes action or some of the information that those truly interested in film making would enjoy, but the commentary features more of the interactions between the characters and how the actors created them. It's interesting to listen to - once - but there isn't really much useful information that could warrant further listenings.
Deleted Scenes (with intros by Writer/Director Richard Curtis): Apparently, the rough cut was about three and a half hours long, so quite a bit of material was cut. Each scene here is presented with a short introduction by Richard Curtis as to why it was left out of the movie. Some of these scenes would have been great if they had been left in the movie, though I'm not sure a three hour presentation of the movie would have won the audiences over. However, an extended edition of the DVD would have been interesting, or at least an option to view the film with the deleted scenes in the film since they are all finished scenes and could have been cut in.
The Music of Love Actually (with Introductions by Richard Curtis): Richard Curtis introduces some of his favorite music selections from within the film, talking about why the song was selected to be included or how it fits into the scene. It's an interesting feature and one I haven't seen before on a DVD and though it's short at only about 8 minutes, it's a good watch.
Music Video - Kelly Clarkson - "The Trouble With Love Is:" Not really a necessity on any DVD, I'm not a huge fan of the music videos included, but there's nothing wrong with the inclusion as long as other features aren't left off. This video is like most others, cutting scenes from the movie into the music video.
Conclusion: I really enjoyed this film in theaters, I just thought it was a fun and funny film and saw it twice on the big screen. It's taken a while to get to DVD, but the wait has been worth it. The film is presented with a very good picture and a Dolby surround presentation that is quite sufficient. The commentary is fun to listen to - once, but any more would just be a bit much, but the deleted scenes and "music of" features justify the price of purchase (aside from the film of course). If you are a fan of the film, as I most obviously am, the DVD is a great addition to your collection - and even as a blind buy, I'd highly recommend this to anyone who even remotely enjoys romantic comedies.