It’s frustrating that Christmas films have basically become a parody genre (I blame you Hallmark!). Young hip spunky woman is single and needs a Christmas miracle so she can find Mr. Right and be happy the rest of her life. Oh, and the production values look like they’re just a tier above a multi-camera sitcom. That said I love a good Christmas film. Fun fact: Scrooged is one of my all time favorite Bill Murray performances. Last Christmas is a Christmas film that… got a theatrical release. That has to mean it’s better than the typical Hallmark tripe, right?
“It’s good luck you know.”
After a life saving heart transplant Kate (Emilia Clarke) has become an inconsiderate jerk who has alienated most of her family and friends. In spite of being an elf at a year round Christmas her cheer is long buried and her boss (Michelle Yeoh) barely tolerates her. In a chance encounter with Tom (Henry Golding) he begins to show Kate how a little optimism might just turn her life around. Oh wow, that synopsis definitely sounds like a Hallmark film. And yeah, this script leans into the typical sentimental tropes found in every single ‘Countdown to Christmas’ entry. But as we know, a talented cast can elevate the material they’re given.
It has been rough year for Emilia Clarke. Not only is Game of Thrones over, but the finale did her character dirty after all the years she put into Daenerys. Sorry for the digression, but she is a talented actress who now has the chance to carve out a fantastic career filled with top notch work. I commend her for making Kate feel like someone who would be in this frame of mind at that point in her life. And the times where she is suppose to come off as an a-hole you still want to root for her. Henry Golding once again shows off his effortless charm that made me expect big things from him after Crazy Rich Asians. Put these two together and there is a lot of amazing charisma. This is definitely the highlight as they make the paint by numbers material work.
“I’m busy, you’re weird, goodbye!”
After all the talk about the twist of the film I did feel the need to address it here. When I was 11 I watched Fight Club with my brother (Side note: My brother is awesome) I was blown away by the fact that (SPOILERS) Tyler Durden wasn’t real. On the other hand, this made me call this kind of twist a mile away with any other film or TV series. So maybe it was the fact that I figured out Tom wasn’t real early on that the reveal didn’t bug me. It was pretty ridiculous and not great, but again if we go by the Hallmark scale it could’ve been executed far worse. (END SPOILERS)
I’m sure all my nitpicking makes it sound like I didn’t like this film. Honestly though, it was perfectly adequate. Most of the credit (If not all of it) goes to Clarke and Golding for committing to such a fluffy story with that goofy twist. Had they treated the material with less seriousness it would’ve come off a lot worse. Instead, this will become one of those films that will get air time on standard cable channels in December and we’ll watch because we’re sick of the 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story. It’s sappy in all the right ways and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
On a final note I would like to take a moment to talk about George Michael. Hearing his famous holiday tune got me a little choked up. It’s hard to believe we’ll be coming up on the 3rd anniversary of his passing. I truly think he would’ve approved of the film.
Overall Score 3/5