"Hey – look up there ... Is that a dragon from a Game of Thrones prequel or a bad sci-fi take on Crazy Rich Asians?!" Tom Webster (Henry Golding) and Katarina a.k.a. Kate (Emilia Clarke) gaze upward in a scene from director Paul Feig's LAST CHRISTMAS. Credit: © 2019 Universal Pictures. All rights reserved.


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Olivia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Emma Thompson, Lydia Leonard, Boris Isakovic, Peter Mygind, Rita Ayra, Laura Evelyn and Ingrid Oliver

DIRECTOR(S): Paul Feig

THE BACK STORY: London resident Katarina – or Kate (Emilia Clarke) as she prefers – is not exactly a good adult. After getting seriously ill a year ago, she's kind of let herself go. She's always late or screwing up at the Christmas store at which she works, making her boss Santa (Michelle Yeoh) very unhappy with her in the process. Her Yugoslavian immigrant parents are busy avoiding each other, which is why her dad (Boris Isakovic) is busy driving a cab to avoid hanging out with her overbearing mother Petra (Emma Thompson). Her Marta (Lydia Leonard) is doing well for herself as a lawyer, but she's always overshadowed by Kate in their mother's eyes.

But then, as fate would have it, she runs into Tom Webster (Henry Golding), a man with an affinity for her who is not her usual type. But as Tom keeps popping up in her life, she starts to warm up to him. And as their relationship develops, Kate finds herself asking herself a question that could prove to be critical in her determining her future happiness: Could Tom be too good to be true?   

THE REVIEW: For a movie inspired by a song by rebellious 80s talent like late pop singer George Michael, Last Christmas plays out a LOT like modern Hallmark movie channel feature, just with much more of a British accent and vocabulary. (Familiarize yourself with terms like "to ring someone," "bollocks" and "shag" if you have never seen a James Bond/Austin Powers/Monty Python movie and/or are under 30. It will help significantly.) That's not to suggest that the movie has no charm to it, but it is to let you know that it's best reserved for two types of movie goers: People who enjoy Christmas movies and/or Hallmark-style films that have an upbeat message ... dripping with clichés, jokes that are more "har har" than hilarious and serve up one or two sweet moments almost as an apology for the hour-plus of overly sugary ones you'll sit through first.

Interpolating (or, in more plain kings' English, sampling) a bit from the Bridget Jones's Diary, The Notebook and/or The Fault in Our Stars playbook, Last Christmas is a mixed bag of things you've seen before designed to feel fresh. Clarke's Kate is the wacky, free-spirited can't get herself together even though everything in the universe is telling her she needs to girl; on the flipside, Golding's character is the well put-together, heart of gold mysterious stranger that is going to lead to our heroine bettering herself.

Likewise, Yeoh's and Thompson's characters provide both comic relief and tough love for Kate, Thompson often getting the best lines (which, given that she co-wrote the screenplay, makes sense).  The film slugs along with its cheery, corny charm for its first 40/50 minutes before trying to make a nice turn into something more substantial. (The characters found in a local homeless shelter are far deeper than many of our main antagonists and nearly more meaningful, too.) But by the time the final song and dance number hits its inevitable stage, you'll either be feeling full of holiday cheer ... or realizing there's some coal in the bottom of the stocking just below its overly festive final act. It's not a "bad" movie, per se ... Think of it like hoping to get an engagement ring for Christmas, only to find out your mate got you a pair of earrings – again – instead.

Thus, while Michael may have wowed audience with his groundbreaking music and visuals in the 1980s, Last Christmas proves some formulas will never quite go out of vogue as long Hollywood – or, as the case may be, Europe – knows there will always be audiences that will enjoy a familiar cinematic tune.



  1. I did not expect this movie to be all that great, but I was surprised by how quickly it grew on me. It may be formulaic in its characters, plot and soundtrack, but all of these elements seem to have been pulled off very well. "Familiar" is a good word to describe it; Last Christmas won't change the world, but it's family-friendly in a good way.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts