James Forsyth in The New Republic:
Throughout the 1970s and ’80s British directors like Mike Leigh and Ken Loach portrayed the upper class as uncaring and contemptuous of the rest of society. These films never made much of an impression–or serious money–on the other side of the Atlantic. However, they were popular enough to affect the cultural climate at home. Then, in 1994, the British movie industry shifted gears and started making the upper class loveable. Why? Because it wanted to make it big on the American side of the pond. Hollywood has had a long love affair with posh Brits; think David Niven, Peter O’Toole, and virtually all the Merchant Ivory films. But this time around the Brits churned out not historical fantasies but contemporary social comedies.
The first of these was the low-budget Four Weddings and a Funeral. The movie cost $6 million to make but grossed $52 million at the U.S. box office alone. It also earned two Oscar nominations, including one for best picture. In the movie, an upper class Brit–played by Hugh Grant–falls in love with an American woman played by Andie MacDowell. Grant’s character was bumbling yet sympathetic, miles from the Leigh and Loach stereotype.