Reel Shorts | Last Christmas

by Charles Kirkland Jr.

Emilia Clarke trades in her dragon for an elf costume in the new Christmas romantic comedy, Last Christmas.

Young Katarina had the voice of an angel. Or at least the voice that could make her mother Petra (Emma Thompson) cry when she heard it.  Nowadays, Kate (Emilia Clarke) can’t even warble enough to get a role in small theater audition.  Nightly, she bounces from home to home and from couch to couch because she doesn’t want to go back to her dysfunctional parent’s home.  During the day, she works in a Christmas shop.  It’s a joyless, soul-crushing life.  Until one day Kate sees Tom (Henry Golding) outside the Christmas shop just staring up into the sky.  Curious, she goes outside to see if he needs help.  Soon Kate realizes that Tom is fine and she is the one in need of help.

Last Christmas is a holiday fairy tale written by Emma Thompson, Greg Wise, and Bryony Kimmings and directed by Paul Feig (Ghostbusters, Spy).  It stars Clarke, Thompson, and Golding along with Michelle Yeoh.  This is Thompson’s first foray back into writing since 2016’s Bridget Jones’ Baby, a movie that fell to a lot of not-too-surprising critical disdain.  Thompson’s writing in this case still leaves much to be desired. 

Off the heels of the blockbuster hit from last year, it was more than a little disappointing that Henry Golding and Michelle Yeoh never have a scene together in this movie.  It would have been a nice Crazy Rich Asians moment but it never came to fruition (with good reason).  Regardless, Golding is extremely delightful to watch.  The perfect antithesis to Clarke’s brooding character, Golding’s Tom character bounces and dances through his scenes like an enchanted sprite, full of energy and life.  Almost everyone else in the movie is mean and brooding as well.  Even Yeoh’s Santa has a golden heart but is disguised by a tongue of brass. 

The most delightful thing about this movie is the soundtrack.  “Last Christmas” is a holiday hit song by the band Wham! which featured George Michael.  Of course, the titular song is in the movie along with several other George Michael hit songs including “Heal the Pain”, “One More Try”, “Everything She Wants”, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and more. If you like George Michael, this movie gives you something to look forward to hearing.

Unfortunately, the best thing about the movie is also the worst thing.  Last Christmas, the movie is just a loosely based, dramatic version of the song. It is not a clever tale at all and comes with a horrible holiday surprise but in the end, it is little more than an elevated Hallmark movie.  Nothing here really worth seeing.  In fact, your time might be better spent checking out Lifetime right now.

Rated PG-13 for some language and sexual content, Last Christmas is a total disappointment.  In a world where you have a great English holiday romantic comedy like Love, Actually, this movie undermines all the goodwill brought before.  It’s a romantic Christmas comedy with no heart.  Ho, ho, hum.

Grade:  D

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