A Christmas Movie that reflects 2020

39 Pontiac Dream, Going Postal
© Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons

As a very strange Christmas swings around, we’ll soon start to see a plethora of Yuletide films appear on television. From the great and the good (films like The Bishop’s Wife and It’s a Wonderful Life) to the truly horrible. One of those I’m going to, against my better judgement, review today. It’s the movie that is lapped up by the mainstream elite as a massive, heartwarming Christmas success but one I find as more saccharine than saccharine. It is of course Love Actually.

There is cheesiness and then there is this. Some cheesy movies are like a Tuc biscuit. Not very good cheese surrounded by biscuit. If you hate the cheese, you can always take the crackers off either side but Love Actually is like Babybels. Not very appealing to look at, crap cheese on the outside and a horrible taste when you bite into it. It’s like a Babybel that has been sitting on the side for the best part of 3 years and someone looked at it, a horrible ball of mould on the kitchen surface and thought it might be a good idea to bite. No, it should have been chucked in the bin the moment it started to turn. In fact, it should never have been bought in the first place.

There are some decent actors in this film who really shouldn’t be here. The late and versatile Alan Rickman, the kooky Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln before he found his balls to play the kick arse Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead. That said, they’re surrounded by the mediocre and frankly horrible – the screechy Kiera Knightly, the wooden Colin Firth and the very flat Hugh Grant. Add to that some stupifying and cringy stories, a painful clarinet that plays every time someone says the word ‘love’, and a finale that culminates in Grant’s PM getting off with his secretary (Boris would be proud) and at this point, you, the viewer, can pat yourself on the back for having stones of steel for you have sat through one of the worst films ever made and can look forward to switching it off and never letting it darken your TV again.

Love Actually, for those who are lucky enough not to have seen it, brings together what the BBC might call a star studded cast in a series of intertwining stories where the various characters find some comfort or romance during the holiday season. The write up for this film will tell you that it’s a romantic comedy but it is neither romantic nor funny.

You have Colin Firth, a writer who retreats after finding his wife in bed with his brother and who falls in love with his Portuguese housekeeper. You have Hugh Grant, the new PM who falls in love with his cockney secretary, Martine McCutcheon. You have Alan Rickman, married to the annoying Emma Thompson, who considers an affair with his slutty secretary. There is the pointless story of Kris Marshall who realises that he’ll never pull an English girl and so travels to America to find love, thus highlighting the ridiculous idea that any American girl will have sex with an Englishman no matter how repulsive he is. Then you have Martin Freeman who falls for his porn movie co-star; Bill Nighy who realises that his friendship with Rab C Nesbitt is more important than drugs and women; Laura Linney who, juggling caring for her disabled brother, finds love with a colleague; Liam Neeson who, distracted by the death of his wife, helps his annoying toad of a son get the girl of his dreams and then there is the Keira Knightley story, where she marries a bloke whose best friend fancies her. Rick Grimes would never have stood at a door flipping signs. Well, not those signs anyway.

The only plus point about this film is that it wasn’t made this year. The perpetually offended would have found it too white. There are no gay characters in it and nowhere near enough minorities. If this film had been made now, it would have ticked all the boxes and would have been equally crap but PC to boot.

Let’s face it, Puffins. It’s been a crap year and if ever a Christmas movie was going to be made for this year, it would have been this one. It wasn’t made for 2020 but it could have been. My other half, who is a sucker for any film that has tinsel in it, is half and half on this film and likes some of the stories, particularly the Bill Nighy story. When December swings around, she’ll occasionally pop it on and sitting through it with her is what I’d call true love.

PS. I haven’t added trailers or clips for good reason. Putting you through this review is bad enough. For those who haven’t seen this film, you have the option of Youtube to see what it looks like. I might be a sadist but I’m not a bastard.

© 39 Pontiac Dream 2020

The Goodnight Vienna Audio file