The Love Actually follow-up for Red Nose Day was terrible… actually

On Friday, the fans of Love Actually finally got what they have been waiting almost 15 years for when Richard Curtis delivered a follow-up to the British festive classic. Red Nose Day Actually visited many of the characters that we grew to love in the original film which, despite it now being reappraised as a monstrous affront to humanity, remains a fun, sweet romcom that is an enjoyable Christmas watch.

Red Nose Day Actually, though, is useless. It’s so useless in fact that I’m going to go through everything that’s wrong with the ten-minute travesty in grotesque detail. So grab your favourite turtleneck, cuddle up and dive in to this nightmare…

Keira Knightley and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Red Nose Day Actually

We open with Keira Knightley and Chiwetel Ejiofor watching telly. They are sat there so stiffly that it looks as if they have literally been waiting for 14 years for Andrew Lincoln to turn up at the door again. Maybe they’re just big fans of The Walking Dead.

The doorbell rings and Ejiofor is reduced to yelling occasionally from the living room, just like before. It seems that being an Oscar-nominated actor and a crucial cog in the Marvel Cinematic Universe does nothing for you in Curtisland.

Sure enough, Lincoln has turned up and starts creeping on Knightley with his time-honoured conversation tactic of writing odd, entitled messages on a series of placards like he got lost on the way to an MRA march. It’s more than a little baffling that Curtis chose to start his new sketch with the main thing everyone now agrees was awful about the original film. What do you think, Andrew?

Andrew Lincoln and his placards are back in Red Nose Day Actually

Anyway, they share some really awkward ‘banter’ – as I’m sure Lincoln calls his stalking – and we get a framing device introducing us to the fact we’re going to meet all of the other characters again. There’s some awful jokes about how Lincoln has a homeless man beard now and then Kate Moss shows up – because everyone in the Love Actually universe eventually shags a supermodel.

Then we cut to Hugh Grant, who is Prime Minister again after a term or two away. Gosh, I really hope Tony Blair didn’t see this.

The one thing everyone remembers about Grant in Love Actually is that he did a funny dance and so, naturally, that’s what he does again.

Hugh Grant returns as the dancing PM in Red Nose Day Actually

This time, Grant boogies to an incongruous R&B track in the shape of Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ rather than a campy slice of fun pop music. It manages to be far less funny than Jon Snow dancing to the same song on Big Fat Quiz of the Year. Nice work, Hugh.

Because he’s an old man now, Grant’s dancing is less infectious and so, as a result of the scene presumably not working well at all, he takes a hilarious slapstick tumble down the stairs and grimaces through the rest of the dance.

Then Martine McCutcheon shows up, looking as if she genuinely hasn’t aged a day, and tells him to “shaaat it, ya doughnut, and stop dancing daaahn them bleedin’ apples and pears” – or words to that effect. I wasn’t really listening.

Bill Nighy is back in Red Nose Day Actually

Next up, we’re back with Bill Nighy as his acerbic, foul-mouthed rocker. He is being interviewed on the radio and spouts some surprisingly off-brand spite about selfish kids, which is actually the funniest stuff in the whole sorry skit.

It all devolves, though, into a bizarrely unfunny line about his manager being dead that is so forced in its stab at poignancy that it makes the original film look nuanced. Not to worry, though, because they’re soon engaging in some shagging banter about the Kardashians. Because apparently Curtis thinks local radio is far more exciting than it is.

Rowan Atkinson is back for Red Nose Day Actually

The next person we see is Rowan Atkinson, reprising his role from what is almost certainly the funniest scene in Love Actually. This time around, rather than gift-wrapping an expensive necklace, he’s annoying a kid with a preposterous insistence on gift-wrapping a red nose.

Maybe his penchant for pissing off customers by elaborately gift-wrapping ridiculous items is why he’s now working in a crappy branch of Sainsbury’s rather than a high-end jewellery store. It’s a bizarre career choice for poor Rufus otherwise.

Colin Firth and Lúcia Moniz in Red Nose Day Actually

We cut to a very cheerful-looking Colin Firth and Lúcia Moniz, who are now happy together with several noisy children. Firth is even wearing a classic Love Actually turtleneck in a gag that was almost funny, until they made it obvious by shouting about it which, in many ways, sums up all of Red Nose Day Actually pretty well.

In the intervening years, Moniz has learned how to speak English absolutely perfectly, but Firth is still shit at Portuguese because he’s an ignorant arse. It’s Brexit in a nutshell.

Rowan Atkinson gift wraps again in Red Nose Day Actually

We’re back with Rufus, who’s now throwing jelly beans and raisins at this boxed-up red nose as the understandably baffled kid looks on, with an angry queue forming behind him. It’s as if Curtis has no idea that what made this gag funny in the original was the sense of tension as Alan Rickman‘s philanderer was in a genuine hurry.

It also served as a witty jab at the kind of overly extravagant extras that come with luxury items. That same sense of opulence does not apply to something that you can buy at any supermarket next to the chewing gum and fags.

That’s enough of that. It was almost film criticism. Here’s Liam Neeson looking really sad on a bench…

Liam Neeson is sad on a bench in Red Nose Day Actually

Neeson is really sad and is accompanied by sad music, but we don’t really know why. We last saw him seemingly about to shack up with Claudia Schiffer, which should be enough to please anyone. Although, seeing as everyone in Love Actually eventually gets to date a supermodel, he probably didn’t feel particularly special.

His son, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, turns up and surprises Neeson. Apparently he’s been visiting every secluded bench in London on the off-chance that his dad has chosen it for a little bit of moping and introspection. For some reason, Neeson’s character keeps rambling about how much money he has. Maybe he bumped off Schiffer and is enjoying the life insurance payout?

Neeson seems to be incredibly unsympathetic when Sangster says he has romance troubles, despite how much time he devoted to letting his son pursue a childhood crush a decade ago. Soon they’re cuddling, though, and everything is fine because it’s Christmas… or mid-March or whatever.

Hugh Grant reprises his role as the PM in Red Nose Day Actually

The final scene of Red Nose Day Actually sees Hugh Grant delivering a briefing to the press, in which he is asked about the rousing speech he gave in the original film. It’s a decent enough skit that sees Grant make a nice jibe about Piers Morgan and confess that Elf is obviously the best Christmas movie, which gets him plenty of credit from me.

It’s a nice ending, for sure, but give me Emma Thompson crying alone to Joni Mitchell any day. This reboot was a little bit naff… actually.


What did you think of Red Nose Day Actually? Was it a fitting return to the classic film or a sad, unoriginal retread? Let me know in the comments section.


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