Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“I wouldn’t like to assume anything, but my knowledge of these friends suggests to me that if they knew anybody in person who behaved the way most of the characters behave in Love Actually, they would definitely be pulled up on it.”
Just fabulous – what more do I need to say?! I must have seen the Love Actually film only once in my life and this book just captures everything many of us think but can’t quite pluck up the courage to say! Such a funny book analysing the film in detail, and it really did put an unexpected smile on my face. So happy to share my review with all these other brilliant book bloggers. Make sure you check out all their reviews too!
By any reasonable measurement, Love Actually is a bad movie. There are plenty of bad movies out there, but what gets under Gary Raymond’s skin here is that it seems to have tricked so many people into thinking it’s a good movie.
In this hilarious, scene-by-scene analysis of the Christmas monolith that is Love Actually, Gary Raymond takes us through a suffocating quagmire of badly drawn characters, nonsensical plotlines, and open bigotry, to a climax of ill-conceived schmaltz. How Love Actually Ruined Christmas (or Colourful Narcotics) is the definitive case against a terrible movie.
The book begins by the author reminiscing about his own Christmases as a child, and a lot of it I could definitely relate to. It’s evident he’s a film critic with the immense attention to detail, even when referencing other films and laying out his opinions on these. I also loved how the author didn’t gently ease us in when picking apart Love Actually! We read strong opinions straight from the off, which were mixed with wit, yet completely honest, which I totally admired. I found myself nodding in agreement to many of the points he makes in the book, even so early on, and it was very difficult not to get drawn into the author’s way of writing. He seems to choose the perfect words to back up his arguments and if I’m honest, the book sounded so damn good. A weird statement to make, but it was so true!
“Nobody seems drunk, nobody seems narky, and Mark definitely isn’t coked up, so we know this is all make-believe, the one-dimensional meanderings of a mind only interested in creating solid-gold shit.”
I was completely astounded by how much information is in this book and the attention to detail was just out of this world. The author quite literally began to analyse every scene and every character from the film, making us question everything and everyone. Even if you haven’t seen the film, I wholeheartedly believe that you’d thoroughly enjoy the author’s rants just as much as I did, and it’s definitely sure to brighten up anyone’s day. At the bottom of each page, you’ll find some random fun facts to go with the book or extra bits of information to back up a point, and reading these just added to my enjoyment. It seems the author has pulled out all the stops here to make the book as fun and addictive as possible! The book seems to be planned out well and it was easy to grasp where we were in the film at any one time. Just brilliant!
I think hearing the author’s thoughts on each character and how they act had to be some of my favourite moments, and most of the time, these characters act very unnaturally. The points the author makes aren’t always clear when you initially watch the film, but it seems that many characters are living in their own strange fantasy world at times. There’s many a cliché and predictable route in the film, and this is explored in the book in a humourous way which really makes you view the plot in a whole different light. Even when scenes seem pretty self explanatory, I guarantee the author picks up on things you may have missed! I was tempted to watch the film again after reading this, and I’m certain I’ll never watch it in the same way again!
“Mia puts the necklace on, just in case you didn’t know who he’d bought the necklace for, and pouts into the mirror like a total bitch.”
I could sense the author’s annoyance and frustration at certain parts of the book, and I kind of liked how his personality was shining through in everything we read! Even though minimal, the author actually picks out certain parts of the film that worked, or that just made sense, such as when a character felt a certain way or did a certain action. However, it was mostly questioning why things were happening or what even possessed a character to say something so stupid. Everything seemed to just make more sense reading this, and part of me wished Gary Raymond and the entire cast of Love Actually would meet for a drink one day. Imagine how that conversation would go! Every ‘chapter’ gave me a consistent smile and it wasn’t long before why face started to ache!
As the author draws his conclusions for the film, his opinions seemed to get more matter-of-fact, signifying the end is what it is and that it wasn’t much of a showstopper. (Was it? I can’t remember that far back…when did I even see the film?!) I loved the description of the film being like an ‘anxiety dream’ with each scene ‘unfolding into view with a selection box of horrors’, basically saying it doesn’t understand the meaning of Christmas, potentially making viewers cringe or see a huge anti-climax. The Afterword is certainly something to watch out for, where the author states that even though he had a dislike for the film initially, writing this book just multiplied that feeling. I was looking forward to seeing the film again, primarily so I could remember a good handful of the author’s quotes from this book that gave me a laugh or two! A very different experience which worked incredibly well for a book in my opinion!
I appreciated this book much more than I originally thought! From ridiculous plot holes to all the sloppy details we don’t really think much about when watching the film, the author puts a humourous spin on things and easily brings us around to his way of thinking. It wasn’t just immensely funny, but the way the book was written was actually rather clever! Whether you adore Love Actually, aren’t sold on it, or even hate it, I think anyone will love the honesty and attention to detail this book brings. It certainly put a smile on my face! A brilliant book that I’d recommend wholeheartedly!
A huge thanks to the author, Gary Raymond, and Emma at Damp Pebbles for my copy of this book to read and review! You can purchase your own copy of How Love Actually Ruined Christmas over on Amazon, available on Kindle and in paperback. Make sure you’re following the author on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more updates!