Review by Sean Boelman
Last Christmas, directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, A Simple Favor), is the first Christmas movie of 2019 — a romantic comedy inspired by the classic Wham! song of the same name. Predictable but hilarious and full of the holiday spirit, this is just what was needed to bring in the holiday season the right way.
The film tells the story of a Christmas store employee who is prone to making bad decisions when her life begins to take a positive turn after meeting a handsome and mysterious stranger. As one would expect, the story is conventional and all of the twists are telegraphed pretty early, but those who have a soft spot for romantic comedies will undeniably have a ton of fun with this movie regardless of the amount of tropes on which it relies.
While some of the funniest moments of the film were revealed in the trailer, some of the most effective scenes in the movie feature witty lines that come out of left field for the laugh. The script, written by Emma Thompson (who also plays a supporting role in the film) and two other writers, is very funny and will easily keep the interest of the audience for the entirety of the runtime.
The main area in which this movie is lacking is its character development. All of the characters, leads included, are very archetypal. Although they do have arcs, the direction in which these characters will be experiencing growth is obvious from the beginning of the film. Still, it is heartwarming as ever to watch a protagonist as they learn the meaning of the Christmas spirit.
Because the movie is so predictable, it likely won’t be as much of a tear-jerker as it seems to want to be, particularly at the end. However, there are some truly heartfelt interactions between the characters, including some wonderful ones between the protagonist and her mother, that are likely to sit with audience members long after the film is over.
Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding have wonderful chemistry together. Clarke is able to bring a lot of heart to her performance, giving a turn that is fittingly charming. Golding complements her well, and even though he isn’t given as much to do, he is quite well-fit to the role. Thompson is absolutely hilarious in her supporting role, as is Michelle Yeoh.
On a technical level, the movie is solid thanks to competent direction from Feig. Perhaps the most notable thing about the film is its soundtrack, comprised of music from the late George Michael. A wonderful tribute to the talented musician, Michael’s music infuses the movie with a liveliness that helps make the film feel even more enjoyable.
Last Christmas may not be a particularly deep or complex movie, but thanks to a witty script and an excellent soundtrack, it is a ton of fun. As far as popcorn entertainment goes, this is just what the multiplexes are in need of right now.
Last Christmas opens in theaters on November 8.