Published Nov 07, 2019There isn't a particularly high bar for Christmas romantic comedies. So long as they're sweet and sentimental, they pretty much get the job done. Last Christmas, on the other hand, is a jumbled and unfunny mess that's more creepy than cheery.
Kate (Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones) is a failing singer who works as an elf in a year-round Christmas store, and her life is going off the rails: she's broke, alienates all her friends and hates her perfectly nice family. There are vague, heavy-handed hints at some sort of traumatic illness in her past.
Her love life is string of meaningless hookups until she falls for Tom (Henry Golding of Crazy Rich Asians), a cheerful and intensely irritating manic pixie dream boy whose oh-so-quirky characteristics include not carrying a phone, twirling while he walks and always looking up. Seriously — his catch phrase is "look up," and he's constantly staring upwards and pointing out roosting birds and fancy-looking awnings. It's supposed to be a lesson about appreciating the beauty of everyday life, but it's just smug and condescending.
Anyway, he meet-cutes Kate by forcing her to look up at a bird, which then poops in her eye. While Kate is trying to clear shit out of her eye, he starts pressuring her to go on a walk with him. She says no, he keeps nagging her, and she insults and tells him to leave. So he eventually coerces her to follow him down an alley, which he proudly declares is the "narrowest alley in all of London." Romance.
His sociopathic energy makes it seem like Last Christmas might take a sharp turn and become a full-blown horror, which definitely would have made for a more interesting movie. Instead, it's all just underdeveloped side-plots. There's an awkwardly shoehorned-in Brexit angle, a couple of minutes about a closeted sister and her same-sex partner, an ever-so-kooky homeless shelter, and a side-romance involving Kate's boss "Santa" and a German sauerkraut expert. I swear I'm not making that last one up. Co-screenwriter Emma Thompson even gives her own character a heavy Yugoslavian accent, which is presumably just so she can deliver the line "dick means penis?" in a funny voice.
Kate is a big George Michael fan, which has nothing to do with anything, but it gives the chance for lots of gratuitous song placements and will presumably help shift a few CDs this holiday season. Perhaps this whole thing was just an excuse to clear out some of the leftover stock of Wham! albums that have been cluttering up warehouses.
Just in case I haven't yet convinced you to give this one a miss, I won't spoil the ending. But let's just say it involves a ridiculous supernatural finale, a schlocky musical number (betcha can't guess which song!), and a timeline that doesn't make any chronological sense. It becomes increasingly clear that the filmmakers simply picked the title Last Christmas and then worked their way backwards from there.
Sprinkled throughout, there's a small handful of actually pretty decent jokes. That doesn't so much redeem Last Christmas as it will make audiences feel shame for occasionally laughing at such a terrible movie.