Indeed the British are well-known for their literature, music, art and things, but there is no comparison to the quintessential quick wit, especially when it comes to romantic comedies. Come on, you know you have a soft spot for Hugh Grant. That film that you love to hate, but secretly love and know its entire script? Yes, it ok, there are lots of us. Here's a selection of Britain's best lovey dovey comedies.
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) -- Dir. Mike Newell
Forget the story about someone's best friend's wedding, "Four Weddings and a Funeral" epitomises the classic British romcom. Starring Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell in the lead roles, the story centralises around a couple that eventually get together (sorry if you've never watched it) after bumping into one another time after time at lots of weddings and a funeral. The film was hugely popular at the time of its release, grossing approximately £25,532,239 at the UK box office (see reference one).
Sliding Doors (1998) -- Dir. Peter Howitt
Technically a British romcom with a hint of American (Gwyneth Paltrow), "Sliding Doors" tells two parallel stories of a twenty-something old London lady's life, had she or not caught a particular underground train. Starring John Hannah in the main male role, the film was a fair success at the time premiered, grossing £1,134,641 pounds on its opening weekend (see reference 2).
Shakespeare In Love (1998) -- Dir. John Madden
Setting up the build-up to the writing of Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet" could have been done in a far less attractive way than it was. Madden's version included a nifty script and a star-studded cast, landing him a box office hit. A handful of stars to mention include Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush and Dame Judi Dench. The movie grossed £1,819,385 in the UK on the weekend it premiered and went on to win seven Academy Awards.
Notting Hill (1999) -- Dir. Roger Mitchell
British romantic comedies will have never been the same without the writings of Richard Curtis. Consequently, for many of his flicks, Hugh Grant's appearance has followed and indeed appears more than thrice in this film list. Set along Portobello Road, the film tells the story of an "ordinary" London travel bookshop owner (Grant) who falls in love with a famous American actress (Julia Roberts). Wonderful additions to the cast include the likes of Rhys Ifans and Henry Goodman. The film pulled in an estimate of USD $27,689,760 (UK £16,944,970) in the States on its opening weekend.
A Life Less Ordinary (1997) -- Dir. Danny Boyle
Boyle's black romantic comedy feels as though its occurrence took place far longer ago than it actually did. Bringing action to a romantic story, a very young Ewan McGregor basically kidnaps Cameron Diaz and after a string of crazy on-the-road incidents, the pair fall in love. In the US it grossed a total of USD $2,007,279 (UK £7,352,309) on its opening weekend.
Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990) -- Dir. Anthony Minghella
There's nothing wrong with a little bit of oldschool thrown into the mix. If you haven't seen Alan Rickman in other British romance films (eg. "Sense and Sensibility"), then it might be worth checking this out. He stars alongside Juliet Stevenson in the British, low budget and slightly bizarre version of "Ghost." Rickman's a cello player who dies and comes back to live with his partner Stevenson. The film grossed approximately US $1,554,742 (UK £951,436) at the time of its release.
Bridget Jones' Diary (2001) -- Dir. Sharon Maguire
Based on the set of novels by Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones' Diary became an overnight success, turning the character of Bridget into a British female icon. Thirty-something-old, overweight, cigarrette smoking Bridget (Renée Zellweger), Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) get caught in a love triangle; accompanied by the lady's daily trials and tribulations. The rest is history. Opening weekend earnings hit over £5,720,292 in the UK.
Wimbledon (2004) -- Dir. Richard Loncraine
This goes out to all the tennis folk out there. Yes, indeed, there was a love story made about Wimbledon. Released in 2004 and directed by Gloucestershire-born Richard Loncraine, the story surrounds two pro tennis players competing in the annual championships in London who, indeed, fall in love. The stars of the show are Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany. Popularity in the opening week in the UK saw box office figures reach £1,699,096.
About a Boy (2002) -- Dir. Chris & Paul Weitz
Another book-to-screen adaptation, "About a Boy" (written by Nick Hornby) was a glittering success when it came out at the beginning of the noughties. More of a believable love story, the plot circulates around Hugh Grant's character "Will," a lost soul with a lot of money and no direction in life or love. He ends up getting lumbered with an awkward young teenager played by Nicholas Hoult and his hippie mum, played by Toni Collette, whilst trying to carve out a semblance of a love path for himself. Set in London, there are very many a British giggle tied in. The film grossed £3,747,966 at the box office the weekend it premiered.
East Is East (1999) -- Dir. Damien O'Donnell
Just imagine 1970s Salford. Can't picture it can you? Now imagine it with arranged marriages and all kinds of interracial drama. That about sums up "East Is East," except that there are many layers of laughter, due to the tip-top script and genuine socially cringe-worthy scenes. Pakistani Muslim marriages, expectations and interracial relationships cause all kinds of chaos. The film stars Om Puri, Linda Bassett and Jordan Routledge in the lead roles. The weekend it opened in the UK it pulled in £435,627 at the box office.
Love Actually (2003) -- Dir. Richard Curtis
Although many other British romcom's had been shared with the world, Richard Curtis and a large crew put their heads together to bring eight love stories onto one script, creating one of the most popular films of its kind of all time. The star list is long, though the favourites are most definitely present -- Hugh Grant, Martine McCutcheon, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley, Laura Linney; just to name a few. Based on ratings taken one year after its release, the film had made £36,238,777 at the box office and continues to be one of Britain's most successful romcoms of all time, repeatedly shown on televisions at Christmas time around the world.