Notting Hill is a bit of a spin on a Cinderella type story, only Cinderella is William Thacker (Hugh Grant, About A Boy) the owner of a break even book store. Nothing seems to be going his way until fate would have it that Anna Scott (Julia Roberts, Oceans Eleven) the worlds most respected and loved actress enters his store. William having a hard time coping with his recent divorce can’t believe the glimmer of hope placed before him. The two seem to get along quite nicely, and days later run into each other again. This time William accidentally spills his orange juice all over her, later inviting her to clean up in his house. The two share an intimate moment and the seeds for the relationship have been planted. Days later William comes home to find out his eccentric Welsh roommate Spike (Rhys Ifans, Formula 51) has taken down a broken message, some American girl called a few days ago. Of course William tracks her down and it’s obvious he’s falling for her, but things get really complicated when her American boyfriend shows up. Of course from here the two go through a rough patch, but it doesn’t take a genius to guess how this one ends.I wasn’t exactly knocked off my feet with Notting Hill but it was better than I originally anticipated. There were quite a few comedic moments mainly at the expense of Rhys Ifans, but Hugh Grant had his moments as well. Julia Roberts as usual does her thing and gives the movie a little extra something. Take this movie for what it is, a sappy romantic comedy with a bit of a twist to make it more enjoyable.
Presented in 1080p 2.35:1 aspect ratio and encoded in VC-1 Notting Hill arrives on HD-DVD with a much improved video transfer over the standard DVD. Both Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts look a lot younger here, surprising for a movie that is only eight years old. Either way both actors look good, showcased with impressive looking color and details. Flesh tones are very realistic and the overall look of the film is quite vibrant, including Hugh Grant’s ginormus teeth.
The print itself is in great condition, with only the odd scene with specking and grain. Softness can pop up here and there, but overall the transfer has impressive depth, especially when William enters Anna Scott’s hotel suit.
Universal has been known to put out some lackluster video transfers; The 40 Year Old Virgin comes to mind. Notting Hill proves that they can deliver the goods on catalogue romantic comedies, fans will be extremely satisfied.
Universal has included a 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus as well as a surprising inclusion of a 5.1 TrueHD track. Still at heart Notting Hill is a comedy and as such relies heavily on the front channels. From time to time we do get the odd song or scene that will use rear and sub channels, but overall this is a front heavy track.
The dialogue track sounds clear for the most part; unfortunately we get the occasional muffled sounding scene. There is no doubt that this is the best the film has ever sounded, unfortunately that still isn’t anything great. For people who have already enjoyed the sound of the track on DVD, the TrueHD track will not disappoint.
Universal has decided to include a fair amount of features with Notting Hill, well all of them are found on the DVD., but still this is a nice bonus to an already solid disc.
- Audio Commentary – Commentary with Director Roger Michell, Producer Duncan Kenworthy and Writer Richard Curtis
- Deleted Scenes – A 10 minute batch of deleted scenes most of which were properly cut from the film. There were some scenes with Spike that should have been kept as they were quite humorous.
- Seasonal Walk on Portobello Rd. – An inside look on the creation of the scene where Hugh Grant walks along the street while the seasons change around him. The scene itself is quite good and this feature does provide some interesting information.
- Spotlight on Location -This feature provides your basic behind the scenes look. The majority of this made up of interviews from various cast and crew who discuss how good the movie is…really, I’m not joking. Still fans should find something worthwhile here.
- Hugh Grant’s Movie Tips – Hugh Grant takes us around the set for an in depth look on how the actor prepares for each movie. Prior to this feature I have always thought Hugh Grant was a bit of a jerk in real life, after this I may have to change my opinion.
- The Travel Book – Pretty much a Photo Gallery of the film.
- Music Highlights – Jump to a certain part in the movie where the indicated song plays.
- Shania Twain “You’ve Got a Way” Music Video
- Elvis Costello “She” Music Video
Notting Hill wasn’t a horrible movie, but it wasn’t a great one either. As with all romantic comedies, the storyline was extremely predictable and clichéd but there were a few laughs to be had. But for fans of the movie you will be happy to know that Notting Hill looks great and sounds quite nice. If you already have the DVD you will not find anything new in the special features department. Regardless, if you’re a fan of the movie this is a good purchase, otherwise I think you will be satisfied with the rental.