I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you deserve better than Hugh Grant - Alexander Brown
I talk not of Christmas parties, as debauched as they’ll be now life is closer to normal, nor do I mean the adverts, with tax-dodging companies who use sweatshops desperate to convince us that ordering from them is actually what Jesus would have wanted.
Instead I talk about the thing that will clog up my social media, overheard conversations, and television schedule despite having as much charm as Christmas dinner out of a can.
I am of course talking about Love Actually, a film so bad I can only presume those who enjoy it do so ironically, like a romantic equivalent of Tommy Wiseau's The Room.
It’s not that I don’t love love. I love love. I love when Dawn comes back for Tim, completely perfectly incandescently happy, or when Buffy and Angel so much as glance at each other.
But Love Actually isn’t love. It’s a Valentine’s card thrown into a blender with American levels of sincerity and Christmas in a desperate bid to trick us into thinking it’s romantic.
It’s the best man trying it on with his friend’s wife, the Prime Minister shagging his secretary, and for some reason a child trying to get over his dead mum by snogging a classmate.
It’s Colin Firth, the librarian of love interests, finding love with a woman because she is unable to speak to him.
It is the twee and sickly brand of romantic comedy that made Americans think all of us were Hugh Grant or Bridget Jones, with viewers ignoring red flags because it was an easy watch and having a moment.
Nostalgia alone is not enough reason to go back to it this Christmas, and that can logically be the only cause for putting it on.
Thinking Richard Curtis films are good is the same as someone loving McDonald’s because they’ve only ever eaten ash. There’s better flavours out there.
And sure, I certainly wouldn’t want people to stop fancying floppy haired Englishmen with posh accents, far from it, but with streaming services being what they are, there is no real excuse for not aiming a little higher.
Why can’t When Harry Met Sally be the cinematic Christmas option?
There’s several Christmas trees, snow, and the city of New York, which feels like it’s designed for winter romance anyway. It’s also just one of the best films ever made.
If that doesn’t suit, why not Moonstruck, a film that manages to surpass the impossibly high expectations of having both Nic Cage and Cher in it.
There’s incredible winter wardrobes, irritating family members, dog walking, and most importantly numerous scenes of food preparation. Again, it’s also just very very good.
Then there’s Sleepless in Seattle, which passes the complicated “is it a joyful Christmas romance” test by simply having Tom Hanks in.
Or even just Before Sunrise, which by virtue of taking place abroad counts as a holiday, and therefore a festive film.
Life is too short for bad romance, bad sex and bad films. Avoid them all this year. Watch something good.
You deserve more than Hugh Grant. You just don’t know it yet.
Alexander Brown is a columnist with Scotland on Sunday and Westminster Correspondent with The Scotsman
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