HomeMovies'Last Christmas' Review: A Lump of Coal in Your Stocking

‘Last Christmas’ Review: A Lump of Coal in Your Stocking

Last Christmas
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

George Michael’s iconic Christmas song “Last Christmas” is a staple during the holidays, but does it deserve its own movie?

No. I’m serious, we’re now at the point in the film industry where songs get their own movies. Yet, in this case, writer/actress Emma Thompson and director Paul Feig have come together to create a film based on “Last Christmas.” Unfortunately, their inspiration creates a complete mess that fails to find any unique way to give Michaels a fitting tribute or find any meaning from the song it’s so inspired by.

Saying “inspired by” actually doesn’t feel right, honestly, as it seems like it’s only inspired by one sentence of the entire song and I can’t even say what it is because if I did, I would literally spoil the entire movie. As lazy as it already is to create an entire film plot surrounding one lyric of a song, the story of Last Christmas captures the same feelings of laziness that run through its protagonist, Kate (Emilia Clarke).

After Kate goes through a terrible illness the previous year, she has lost all of her drive and motivation in life. She struggles to find a place to call home, she slacks off at her job as an elf at a Christmas store, and she doesn’t want to talk to her overprotective mother (Thompson). However, her life starts to turn around when she meets an oddly cheery and optimistic guy, Tom (Henry Golding). As she spends more time with him, she begins to get back into the spirit of things and even begins a romantic connection with him.

Look, we’ve seen this kind of story before. This film is just as predictable as you could expect — mainly because Thompson and Feig don’t add anything new to it. It’s actually funny how the the film’s writers knew how predictable and obvious its twist was so they try so hard to make it seem like it’s not going in its obvious direction … and then just falls back into it anyway. While I won’t fully say why or what is so obvious about Kate and Tom’s relationship, I’ll just say this: there’s a reason that only Kate reacts to Tom’s over the top cheeriness and why her illness is connected to his sudden appearances. It’s something that we’ve seen in other films and nothing that Clarke and Golding do make it any less generic—although their attempts are admirable.

Clarke and Golding definitely do their best to bring some charm to their bland characters and their chemistry is definitely solid. Thompson gives a solid performance and got a couple of chuckles out of me. However, everyone else could simply be labeled as forgettable because as much as the film tries put them in the spotlight, the humorless script completely lets them down.

It’s surprising that Last Christmas just wasn’t funny. A lot of the jokes and side characters are just forcibly trying to hit their mark for no avail. You can almost feel when characters are meant to come in to drum up some laughs, but the lines and direction they’re given is either so reserved, or so random that it makes it completely impossible for them to leave any kind of impression.

The script’s tendency to fall back on cliches or “familiarity” even hurts the main characters. Tom’s cheeriness and optimism becomes old and you start to realize that there’s nothing really to his character other than those two feelings. Kate’s your typical down-on-her-luck loser who has moments of “learning to be a better person” have nothing behind them and aren’t all that special especially for a Christmas film. Helping the needy and those around her are fine and good things to do, but they aren’t unique to Kate’s story and you can find more interesting arcs and likable characters in other films.

Worst of all, the film attempts to add so many social issues to the story that its good-hearted message feels thrown in. From issues like immigration to Kate’s sister (Lydia Leonard) dealing with her sexuality and her mother’s reaction to it, there’s a lot that Last Christmas attempts to tackle for no reason. Even the moment with the homeless people getting the spotlight is just used as an unfunny comedy, that again, we’ve seen in plenty of other films. It doesn’t add much  to Kate’s story and the film doesn’t even want to delve into these themes and issues deep enough for them to mean anything.

You know what, though, that’s actually not the worst thing here. The real worst thing is that Last Christmas doesn’t pay a strong tribute to the man or song its inspired by. Other than a mere mentioning that Kate likes George Michael, and his songs are played throughout the film, there’s nothing that pays tribute or care to Michael. Kate rarely talks about how or if he’s an inspiration to her in life. No one really brings him up much. There’s not even any delving into the meaning of “Last Christmas” and who Michaels was as a person. After watching it, I only feel that Last Christmas wanted to use Michael as a selling point rather than give him the loving tribute that he totally deserves.

Hopefully, Last Christmas will be the last time we see an attempt to create a film based on a song lyric. The result is lazy, uninspiring, generic, and just puts you in a sour mood — the opposite of what this holiday classic is intended to do.

Last Christmas is currently playing in theaters nationwide.

Tom Moore
Tom Moorehttps://mooreviews.com/
Tom is always ready to see and review everything horrifying and hilarious that hits theaters, television, and video games...sometimes. You can check out his other reviews and articles on his blog, Mooreviews.

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