Doctor Sleep and Last Christmas screened on the same night in Dallas, and my life-long Stephen King addiction wouldn’t let me to skip his film. My girlfriend Kristi Bernstein, who adores holiday rom-coms (sorry but I do NOT) offered to take the bullet for me. Here is her Last Christmas review.
I need to be upfront here. I have a complete bias when it comes to romantic comedies, especially those that involve Christmas. It has to be truly terrible for me not to sit up late at night in December and watch it for the 15th time. I even watched Holiday in the Wild this weekend on Netflix, which was so bad I wanted to gouge my eyeballs out. Then I watched it again with my 13-year-old daughter because…you know…it’s a Christmas rom-com. With that said, I just watched Last Christmas with my friend Kathryn.
Last Christmas has an impressive pedigree from the start, starring Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) and Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones but not a stranger to rom-coms, as she starred in Me Before You). It is co-written by Oscar winner Emma Thompson (with an assist by Bryony Kimmings), directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids and Spy) AND it’s littered with George Michael and Wham! songs. I mean, come on! That’s already better than MOST of what I repeatedly watch this time of year on Netflix.
It’s about Kate (Clarke), whose recent recovery from illness has caused her to be dark and reckless. She spends her nights couch jumping, hooking up with strangers and creating havoc wherever she goes, all while trying to avoid her immigrant parents (Emma Thompson and Boris Isakovic). Kate is a wannabe musical-theater actress who instead works at a year-round Christmas shop, run by a woman named Santa (Michelle Yeoh, clearly doing someone a favor here). She’s close to losing her job when a mysterious stranger appears (Golding) and forces Kate to reevaluate her life. There’s an unexpected (but was it really?) twist involving the title-song that’s almost laughable, if I weren’t so bought into the film by the time it’s revealed.
The basic story-line of Last Christmas is sweet but it’s overpowered by additional characters and subplots. It also turns into a game of “Can You Spot the Cameos?” (Hi Rob Delaney and Patti LuPone!) Last Christmas is bolstered by it’s soundtrack though, which appears to be a love letter to George Michael. It includes some of his best, like “Heal the Pain”, “Praying for Time” and one of my favorite sing-in-the-shower/scream-it-in-the-car songs, “One More Time”.
(I think a homeless subplot might have even been added because George was so passionate about the homeless.)
So with that, here’s my official ruling: Last Christmas is perfectly suited for those who’ve taken a half-a-day off to drink wine and do some holiday shopping. I mean, it’s no Love Actually, The Holiday or my personal favorite, While You Were Sleeping, but I’m certain I’ll see it again with my daughter (probably this weekend).
Also, there is a 100% chance that forever, when Last Christmas is on Netflix (or wherever it’s played) I will get sucked in. I won’t mind though, and my eyeballs will remain intact. (C+)