STARS: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Emma Thompson
DIRECTOR: Paul Feig
GENRE: Romantic Comedy
When I saw the previews for Last Christmas I thought great, here's a perfectly timed romantic comedy for the holidays inspired by the songs of George Michael! I like the holidays and I like George Michael--especially the now classic song from whence the movie takes its name. So I was looking forward to seeing it. I even thought it might have a Love Actually vibe to it (one of my all-time favorite films). But any similarity between Last Christmas and Love Actually was strictly the product of my overly optimistic and misguided imagination.
Last Christmas is a Lifetime channel movie all the way--except instead of being on your TV it's up on the big screen and you get to pay for the pleasure of luxuriating in its vacuous millennial-ness.
Emilia Clarke is Kate, who works as a Christmas elf in a year-round holiday themed shop in London. She's estranged from her family, and is homeless by choice, crashing wherever she can wangle a place for the night--male accompaniment (but not batteries) sometimes included. It gets her (and her wicket) in some sticky situations. She's spinning her wheels, much like the go-nowhere plot during most of this movie.
Then along comes Tom (Henry Golding) who takes a persistent interest in her. Before long he has broken down her wary resistance, imploring her to always LOOK UP! When she does, a bird craps on her face, much to the delight of the sniggering adolescent who lives on inside of me.
There is something off about Tom. He shows up, then repeatedly disappears, much to the chagrin and frustration of Kate. That's tied in with the BIG TWIST near the end, which I didn't see coming because I nodded off a couple of times and missed a few things.
Clarke is just eye candy here, she's not going to win any acting awards. Emma Thompson, however, who co-wrote the screenplay, is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards. So you wonder why she'd want this stinker on her resume. She plays Kate's mother, with a sincere but not terribly convincing Balkan accent (the family are immigrants from the former Yugoslavia).
In the numerous ways that Last Christmas is disappointing, the biggest is that we only hear a snippet of the title song by George Michael over the opening credits. It returns near the end, performed in heartwarming fashion by Clarke and a cadre of "lovable" bums and eccentrics who frequent the homeless shelter where she volunteers. It's all warm and fuzzy, and it's the high point of the film, inspiring me to raise my rating one notch above what I could have given the movie. Because hey...it's Christmas!