Susan Granger’s review of “NOTTING HILL” (Polygram/Universal Pictures release)
She’s the most dazzling, famous movie star in the world and he’s the sheepish, fumbling proprietor of a tiny travel book store on funky Notting Hill in London. Can they falls in love? Why not? In this joyous, contemporary fairy tale, anything’s possible. Especially with a script by Richard Curtis (“Four Weddings and a Funeral) that’s reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn’s “Roman Holiday.” The set-up has Julia Roberts, a glamorous American actress, meet Hugh Grant, a book-seller, in his shop – after which he inadvertently spills orange juice all over her T-shirt. She agrees to let him awkwardly clean her up in his nearby flat and – well, nature takes its course. But their path to romance has plenty of bumps which I won’t ruin for you. Suffice it to say, she’s the impetuous aggressor, while he’s wary. She’s sophisticated; he’s shy. She’s agile; he’s clumsy. She’s direct, saying whatever she thinks; he’s understated and evasive, musing, “I’ve opened Pandora’s box, and there’s trouble inside.” Director Roger Michell has astutely assembled a superb British supporting cast, particularly Rhys Ifans as Grant’s wild, Welsh flat-mate and Emma Chambers as his ditsy sister, with Alec Baldwin in an uncredited cameo as Roberts’ boy-friend who drops in unexpectedly. There are several mischievous sequences involving the absolute idiocy people display in the presence of a celebrity and a comic sparring-match with the British tabloid press, plus a timely scandal involving obscene photos and sly, amusing repartee involving Mel Gibson’s bottom. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Notting Hill” is an amusing, captivating, relentlessly entertaining 10 – a perfect date movie and one of the most delightful films in years!