‘Last Christmas’ Should Have Been Delightful, But It Is Not

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. That means Hollywood is bombarding us with holiday tales and Christmas flicks from all sides. You can find them everywhere from Netflix, to your nearest movie theater. One particular film, Last Christmas, helmed by Bridesmaids director Paul Feig has all the makings of the perfect sparkly Christmas flick.

Set in London, the ever-likable Emilia Clarke stars as Kate, a 26-year-old woman whose life is literally crumbling under her feet. Fully recovered from an illness that nearly took her life, Kate is struggling to put the pieces back together. However, she can’t seem to take anything seriously. Kate is barely present at her job as an Elf in a Christmas shop –much to the frustration of her boss Santa (Michelle Yeoh). She avoids her Yougalavian immigrant parents like the plague, annoys her friends, picks fights with her older sister, and seems to only find solace in drinking herself into a stupor and hooking up with a random array of disgusting men.

However, a chance encounter with a charming (and gorgeous) stranger Tom (Henry Golding), begins to shift her perspective slowly. Tom rides his bike around the city, volunteers with the homeless and has detached himself from his phone. As she bonds with him, the self-pitying haze that has settled over Kate slowly lifts forcing her to appreciate her second chance at life. However, because this is a romantic dramedy — the audience and Kate soon begin to realize that Tom isn’t exactly who he says he is.

Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding are charming in ‘Last Christmas’ but the story is flimsy

Though Clarke and Golding are charming with chemistry to boot, there’s isn’t much they can do with the film’s shallow script. There are funny moments here and there, but much of the film is so repetitive that it almost felt exhausting. Likewise, though it’s hard to hate Clarke, and many Millennials can probably relate to the funk Kate finds herself in — she does some pretty heinous things to her friends and loved ones. She’s often barely tolerable, which makes the audience less inclined to want to see her have a happy ending. 

Emma Thompson, who stars as Kate’s mother, Adelia, inadvertently carries much of the humor in the film. Having fled the former Yugoslavia during the war — Adelia can’t stop worrying about or smothering her family with her doom and gloom commentary. 

‘Last Christmas’ feels cheesy instead of timely

In an attempt to be timely, Last Christmas also shoved commentary on Brexit, and immigration into various scenes. Though the topics are critical to discuss, they didn’t feel fully fleshed out in the movie. Instead, it felt like a flimsy way to try and put a time stamp on this particular holiday film.

Written by Thompson and Bryony Kimmings to center George Michael’s music, the film’s soundtrack does have a good chunk of the late singer’s discography in it. However, the movie is just a literal incarnation of his song, “Last Christmas.”

This isn’t to say that the entire film is a wash. As a non-Londoner who has visited the city a couple of times, it was nice to see some hidden gems that aren’t typically displayed in cinema. Also, it was nice to see Golding as a leading man in a major Hollywood film.

The big twist in ‘Last Christmas’ is strange

Still, the film’s twist is so strange and unbelievable that you’ll question your own sanity when it’s revealed. (Or you might just be smarter than me and figure it out well before the big climax.

In the end, Last Christmas had all of the pieces for the perfect holiday film. Unfortunately, it won’t be a movie that fans of Christmas flicks return to, year after year.

Last Christmas debuts in theaters, November 8, 2019.