In The Clouds a Richard Curtis joint
Tim (Hugh Grant) is a pilot and Karen (Gwyneth Paltrow) a flight attendant for imaginary budget airline Bel Air. They love each other but corporate policy (boo, corporate policy) states that relationships between staff are forbidden. Because of his unrequited love for his entirely unsuitable PA Beryl (Gemma Arterton) embittered Bel Air CEO Colonel Bosworth Shitlizard (Rhys Ifans) enforces the “no love” rule with an iron fist, ensuring Tim and Karen’s insipid romance can extend no further than making eyes at each other over a trolley rammed to the gunwhales with peanuts.
Over the course of the film Tim and Karen help every single one of the airline’s passengers, flight crew, office workers and cleaners, associated air traffic controllers and ground staff fall in love with each other. It is a nauseating smear of love gouged violently into a farmer’s field of glittering debris. Of course, each couple’s story is whimsical or involves a pratfall or somebody saying “fuck” in a rich and amusing manner, because this is a Richard Curtis film and you should not forget that for a second.
Though their predicament is oh so piquantly bittersweet, Karen’s third-rate moments of leadenly scripted sadness eventually force Tim to take drastic measures, not least of all because the film desperately needs a plot. Emotionally blackmailing the hundreds of people he and Karen have helped, they arrive en masse at the car park of Bel Air’s shabby headquarters and, in a heartwarming moment akin to being clubbed in the ribs with a microwaved hammer, sing All You Need Is Love until Bosworth Shitlizard’s stinking executive heart melts and he declares his love to Beryl. Naturally, because even a Richard Curtis script needs an ending, Beryl feels the same way.
Filled with happiness and scant regard for corporate responsiblity, Shitlizard makes an impromptu uplifting speech to the gathered extras and rescinds Bel Air’s “no love” rule with immediate effect, enabling Tim and Karen to kiss as the camera alights on the face of each member of the all-star cast and they cry tears of sickening happiness. THE FUCKING END.