A multi-million dollar Hallmark movie.
Well, the day has finally arrived. After mentioning in countless reviews how I wished Paul Feig had been the director of the movie I was watching, I am finally reviewing a movie directed by Feig himself. I always assumed that the first movie by Feig that I reviewed for Luke’s Living Room would be a Wayback of one of his action-comedies like The Heat (2013) or Spy (2015). Although, trust me, I’ll be writing those reviews any day now. Instead of an older action-comedy, today I’m reviewing Feig’s new holiday rom-com, Last Christmas (2019). Written by Emma Thompson and starring the adorable duo of Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, I have to admit that this was one I was really looking forward to. How could I not with the team involved? While still as talented as ever, this is an enjoyable yet slight misstep for Feig and friends.
Inspired by the Wham! song of the same name, Last Christmas follows Kate, an unlucky aspiring singer who works at an all-year Christmas store. Struggling with how unfulfilled and worse her life has become since she was seriously ill a year ago, things seem to look up when Kate meets Tom, a mysterious and optimistic stranger. Together the two explore London as Kate opens herself up to the possibility that maybe there are things to care about in life other than herself.
Look, I don’t post spoilers on this blog but I am going to just say this: If you are someone who has A) seen a Christmas movie or B) heard the song “Last Christmas,” chances are you know exactly how this movie is going to play out. Sure, most holiday rom-coms are quite easy to predict the ending to, but I promise, you’ll see the finale of Last Christmas coming from a mile away. Of course, there’s more to Last Christmas than its predictable finale. Unfortunately, its beginning and middle are equally as lacklustre. I swear, I’m really not trying to tear apart this movie. The truth is, it’s not bad at all. It’s just largely disappointing considering the wonderful track record of the cast and crew. What’s so disappointing is that the charm, comedy, romance and Christmas spirit are not as plentiful as I would have hoped. Instead of powering the movie and making it a story you couldn’t help but fall in love with, those elements come more so in small doses that were few and far between. When those fleeting moments did appear, they were courtesy of the movie’s stars, Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding.
Wow, talk about a perfect casting. As Kate and Tom respectively, Clarke and Golding light up the screen each time they share a scene together, shining more brightly than the movie’s abundance of twinkle lights. Seriously, I could count the amount of times there was a scene absent of twinkle lights on one hand. The chemistry between these two is warmer than a cup of hot chocolate and just as sweet. Clarke commits fully to the role. Watching her play this out of control mess of a woman is so enjoyable to watch and you can tell that she’s having just as much fun. Clarke delivers a fantastic leading performance, getting to showcase her prowess at both physical comedy and giving meaty emotional monologues. I never watched Game of Thrones (2011 – 2019) on which Clarke was apparently a standout, but after this role I’ll definitely keep an eye out for her in the future.
As lovely as Clarke is, I have to say that it’s Golding who undoubtedly steals the show. I remember reading an interview where Feig said working with Golding was like working with his own personal Cary Grant. It’s not hard to see why. Golding possesses all of Grant’s effortless suave, charm, strength and dreaminess, everything you could possibly want for the leading man in a holiday rom-com. Delightful to watch and able to get you just as emotional as Clarke does, Golding’s mere presence helps to redeem this regrettably forgettable movie. Golding is sensational and should absolutely be cast in everything from now on. DEFINITELY a musical because you can just tell the man can dance.
The rest of the main cast, including Thompson as Kate’s overbearing mother and the incomparable Michelle Yeoh as her boss, Santa, are equally as entertaining. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the acting in Last Christmas. I believe the problem with the movie, the thing holding it back from reaching its potential as a truly great holiday delight, is the mismatched partnership of Thompson and Feig. I absolutely adore the pair and their work, but there’s something about the combination of Thompson’s writing and Feig’s direction that doesn’t quite mesh. The former’s script is lovely and full of rom-com goodness, but it just doesn’t pair well with the latter’s tone, which is at its best when its applied to bold, laugh-out-loud comedies. The result is a movie that is unremarkable. Unlike Feig’s past projects, there are no memorable jokes or moments that audiences will be laughing about for months. Once again, Last Christmas is a a perfectly fine movie, but not the best work of anyone involved.
Is Last Christmas great? Absolutely not. But will I end up watching it every December for the foreseeable future? Absolutely. Sure, I’ve talked about how the movie doesn’t live up to the level of excellence I was expecting, but hey, there’s still enough holiday mushiness to get you in the Yuletide mood. Seriously, the budget for twinkle lights must have been in the low thousands. When it becomes available on DVD or streaming, I recommend giving Last Christmas a chance and watching it with your loved ones by the fire. You’re sure to not only have a pleasant viewing experience, but the title song stuck in your head for at least a week.
Will you see Last Christmas? What are your favourite Christmas movies?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!