Web Exclusive: "Love Actually" at the center of "Christmas Classic" debate

Web Exclusive

(CNN) - What does it take for a Christmas Movie to be considered "a classic?"  Apparently that's a matter of some debate... heated debate as evidenced by the recent online furor over the 2003 film Love Actually.

'Tis the season of classic holiday movies starting, of course, with It's A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and in the 60's a couple TV specials were added to the cannon, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and a Charlie Brown Christmas.

There's now, a slightly newer batch of movies are starting to crowd in on the family favorites. Does Will Ferrell's Elf deserve a place on the DVR?  Hmmm. Probably not, but make no mistake, the most heated debate about Christmas movies centers around the film Love Actually.

Does it deserve to be considered a new Christmas classic?

"No," says film critic Chris Orr.

"A classic holiday movie has to have someone who is changed by the spirit of Christmas in some fashion," says Chris Orr.

Yes, says associate editor, Emma Green.

"The strength of Love Actually though, which is a more recent classic is that to me it feels more personal. it feels like something I can see in my real life potentially, hopefully, and something that feels fresh," says Emma Green.

Orr and Green write for The Atlantic.  Earlier this month, they published dueling articles, turning the film LLove Actually into a battlefield.

"Basically every one of our coworkers got up from their cubes, stopped what they were doing and surrounded us Fight-Club style as we debated loudly over the merits of the movie," says Emma Green.

"It was awesome everything ground to a halt for about five or ten minutes," says Chris Orr.

They took their debate to the web and their work garnered more than 50,000 Facebook shares.  The argument is brutal and fun.  The now decade old British film, follows nine story lines, each about some version of affection: young love, familiar companionship, ill-timed lust, and truly joyful anticipation.

Orr argues these plotlines are not only implausible but superficial, even immoral!  Far from the wholesome virtues expected this time of year.

"I think that Love Actually is only an unromantic movie but an actively anti-romantic movie," says Chris Orr.  "It's almost like a series of money shots, a mashup of first and last scenes of a variety of other romantic comedies without any of the middle part where people actually get to know each other and fall in love."

Green says love is the spirit of the season, no matter how sloppy it's expression.

"They don't have time to show all of the 4 hour conversations that eventually lead people to fall in love intellectually. It's more about that magic chemistry moment that allows people to fall into the crush-zone and I think that's a very valid and magical and wonderful thing to show," says Emma Green.

It should be noted that Love Actually got mixed reviews when it hit came out, including Orr's own scathing write up.

"When I watched it again, it was even worse than id remembered it and in particular the Kiera Knightly scene was even creepier than I remembered it," says Chris Orr.

For the record, A Christmas Story was also originally panned, but I guess you could say that criticism didn't quite stick.

And now it's an indisputable classic.


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