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December 29, 2008

The 'Notting Hill' effect on your love life


Not only can watching rom-coms like "Maid in Manhattan" and "You've Got Mail" rot your brain, but it can also throw a wrench in your love life.

So says a study from U.K. researchers, which found that folks who subject themselves to sappy meet-cute happily-ever-after movies have unrealistic and/or unhealthy expectations of real-life love. The Brit press has helpfully dubbed it "the 'Notting Hill' effect" after that 1999 Golden Globe-nominated flick.

Ah, another reason to point the finger at Hugh Grant. J'accuse!

Well, we could've saved the Family and Personal Relationships Laboratory at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh some paperwork and trouble and just shared that insight with them after a viewing this summer of the delightful brain poison that is "Sex and the City: The Movie." It follows in a long line of ridiculous but highly enjoyable flicks where girl gets swept off feet by "Perfect Man." Lots of fun, sure, but lots of brainwashing. We need a scientific study to tell us that?

Head researcher Dr. Bjarne Holmes thinks the cautionary head's-up bears repeating:

"We are not being killjoys -- we are not saying that people shouldn't watch these movies. But we are saying that it would be helpful if people were more aware and more critical of the messages in these films."

For more heartbreaking findings -- including an incongruous "Serendipity" vs. David Lynch face off -- go here.


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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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