‘Last Christmas’ // Film Review: Romance, Christmas, and George Michael All-Around

Normally, I’m the kind of person that doesn’t get into the Christmas mood when it gets close to December, but that doesn’t mean I get to enjoy any Christmas related movies a month before, because why not? Though one of the few to come out during the season is none other than Last Christmas, named after the hit ’80s holiday song by Wham!. You didn’t think we needed a movie based on a song, but here we are.

What’s the Story: Kate (Emilia Clarke) has been pretty unlikely in her young life, and to make things afloat on her own sake, she works at a year-round Christmas store owned by “Santa” (Michelle Yeoh) dressed as an elf in London. When he a man named Tom (Henry Golding) and keeps running into him to show that there’s more to offer in life after recovering from an illness.

Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding in Last Christmas (2019)

Probably the main reason I was hooked before walking in was Paul Feig. Personally, he is one of my favorite directors that has shown to be a true presence in the realm of comedy (Bridesmaids, Spy), which made me look forward more to what he can bring to a romantic comedy set around Christmas time. Fun fact: This is actually his second Christmas movie after the forgettable Unaccompanied Minors. But if you’re looking at Last Christmas to be the next possible classic to watch yearly in the same vein as the popular Love Actually (one of my favorites), there’s a chance you’ll like this. For me, I would give this movie my heart if it tried a bit harder.

There’s really one reason to see this, and that would support superb talents like Clarke and Golding. Both of them provide some good chemistry with each other in nearly every scene, and their respective characters are seen as likable. Tom, yes. Kate, a mixed bag. Nice to see the Game of Thrones actress in the lead that sounded interesting while worrisome because her transition into big-budget blockbusters hasn’t worked in her favor. Golding’s, a true breakout star the year previous with hits like Crazy Rich Asians and Feig’s last flickĀ A Simple Favor, performance shows he needs to be passionate and even lovable. That personally gets me.

Feig’s direction isn’t bad, nothing stylish. But you honestly can’t tell that Feig was behind the camera since it never has jokes flying at you, which isn’t a bad thing. Even so, some funny moments earned its laughs, though the other half felt a bit dry. The script was written by Emma Thompson, who also plays Emilia’s mother from Yugoslavian, and Bryony Kimmings, and there was something about that wasn’t making me invested completely with the overall story and the feeling to genuine charm wasn’t pulling me in. Was it supposed to make me cry? Or even taken away from 102 minutes? Not quite.

But when the trailer came out last summer, there was something that I was pretty unsure about that I can’t say without spoiling. Once said aspect is revealed, that was practically in the back of my mind the entire time, and it didn’t really come as a surprise. Because of that, mostly everything else going into the second act came off a bit predictable.

If the story just revolved around Kate and Tom and spin it into a more memorable movie set around this time of year, then it would’ve made for something even better, in my opinion. There isn’t a ton that I’m going to remember when it’s over.

Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding in Last Christmas (2019)

Since the movie is named off a song like this, you better believe there’s going to be a ton of music from the late George Michael throughout, including a few unreleased tracks. And the character of Kate is a gigantic fan of him. If you’re the type of person that doesn’t get sick of hearing his songs, then it’s a field day for yourself.

As it stands with Last Christmas, it won’t go down as one of Feig’s best comedies, and it kind of ends up being alright in my book. Those who are hoping to think will be the next sweet holiday rom-com will think that and just be in warm comfort. Though the performances weren’t the problem, there’s just something about the story that doesn’t offer enough charm to be smitten by. Give it a shot and see if you’ll like it.

Grade: C+

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