Meghan and Harry may be the talk of the British Monarchy right now, but we all know who’s the real King of England – Hugh Grant. More specifically, Hugh Grant as the lovable idiot in every rom-com from the late 1990s and early 2000s. Despite turning heads for his floppy hair and British charm in the 1987 romantic drama Maurice, it wasn’t until his breakout role as the bumbling Charles in the 1994 Four Weddings and a Funeral that Grant really burst onto the international stage and began his journey from regular actor to rom-com God.
In honour of Valentine’s Day (and also the fact that I am deeply passionate about Hugh Grant and every role he has ever played) the Canstar Blue team and I have put together a definitive ranking of his best romantic comedies. Fun fact: the first four of the five are written by iconic British scriptwriter Richard Curtis. Someone clearly shares our obsession, writes Maddy Morwood.
So, grab your loved one (if that’s your cat, fine) and settle in for a V-day full of some “surreal, but nice” moments. To quote the British Prime Minister himself: “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
Watching Hugh Grant’s average-joe bookstore owner William Thacker manically scrambling around his London apartment offering the super-famous and desperately attractive Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) some apricots soaked in honey (“it stops them tasting like apricots and makes them taste like honey and if you wanted honey, you could just buy… honey. Instead of apricots. But nevertheless, they’re yours if you want them”) is peak romance. Honestly, the entire movie is. Curtis’ Notting Hill holds the top spot for not only Hugh Grant rom-coms, but the best of all time. How long will it stay there? In the words of Anna Scott, “indefinitely”.
Four Weddings and a Funeral
It was tough to place this cinematic masterpiece in second place, but let it be known that it was close. The low-budget movie about a circle of high society Brits attending, well, four weddings and one funeral, was supposed to be a flop – but instead shot Grant to fame, became the highest grossing British film in cinema history, and earned a Best Picture nomination. It features everything a rom-com from Richard Curtis really should; a stuttering Grant trying to win over a beautiful American (Andie MacDowell), a relationship subplot that caught us all off guard (if you cry every time you hear “he was my North, my South, my East and West” than you know what I’m talking about) and British wit at its best.
Stream it on Stan.
Find me someone who dislikes this movie, I dare you. Love Actually is an ode to every kind of love there is (whether appropriate or not – we’re looking at you, Snape). Unrequited, father-son, friendship, young love, bromance, workplace, heartbreak, sister-brother, this 2003 Christmas classic has it all. Hugh Grant as the Prime Minister of England dancing alone in his mansion to ‘Jump (For My Love)’ is something we didn’t know we needed, but now could simply not live without. Grant for PM 2020.
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Can you think of anything better than two middle-class men fighting over you in the way that only two middle-class men could (aka, pitifully)? Colin Firth’s Mark Darcy and Hugh Grant’s Daniel Cleaver feeble attempt at a fist fight over Bridget’s heart inside an Italian restaurant is one of the greatest fight scenes to date, and so wonderfully British. Bridget Jones’ Diary was a shake-up to the Grant/Curtis rom-com recipe, with Curtis casting him as not the leading man, but the bad boy. Daniel Cleaver was cheeky, a womanizer, and clearly going to strike out to Colin Firth – but it was so hard to hate him.
Rent it on Google Play.
Music and Lyrics
It’s easy to dismiss this movie – and hey, I don’t blame you, most people do. It isn’t brilliantly written like Notting Hill or a classic like Love Actually. But there is something about Hugh Grant as a washed up 80s pop star pulling a hip flexor on stage, as he attempts his ex-band’s signature dance move to a small crowd of middle-age women at a high school reunion, that we just can’t shake.
Music and Lyrics is undeniably whack – Grant’s Alex is chasing the validation he once had with PoP! (an ode to Wham!) and he recruits his plant lady/amateur lyricist/Drew Barrymore to help him write a hit for Cora Corman (an ode to the Shakira/Brittney’s) to get him back in the spotlight. If nothing else, PoP! Goes My Heart will be stuck in your head for weeks.
Stream it on Amazon Prime.
If you want more Hugh (seriously, five movies in one night is enough), some other standouts include the Hugh/Emma Thompson Sense and Sensibility, the charming About A Boy, Sandy Bullock fav Two Weeks Notice, Daniel Cleaver’s return in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Maurice. (Also, Paddington 2, although I’m hesitant to call that a rom-com of the 2000s). Hugh, to us, you are perfect.
Image credits: Stan Australia