Starring: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson
Director: Paul Feig
Running Time: 103 mins
Last Christmas is a British film about a woman whose life seems to go from disaster to disaster, but after meeting a mysterious man outside the Christmas shop she works in, everything begins to take a turn for the brighter.
This film has all the hallmarks of your average festive rom-com. A cheesy plot, a Christmas soundtrack, a mediocre attempt at updating A Christmas Carol, and everything in between. Last Christmas packs all of those tropes in, and still manages to be worse, with poor dialogue, humour and pacing throughout, an often non-sensical romance and a wildly fluctuating comedic style that feels more awkward than it ever does funny.
And yet, somehow, with some of the strangest and most unexpected narrative ideas you’ll ever see in a Christmas movie, there’s something irresistibly enjoyable about Last Christmas. It’s a bad movie, and it’s not funny enough to fall into the so-bad-it’s-good category, but for all its failings and all its awkward comedic misfires, it just has enough of a spark to prove a memorable and entertaining watch.
But let’s start with the basics, because for the most part, Last Christmas really isn’t a very good film. First of all, its comedy is terrible, with joke after joke after joke falling flat on its face again and again right the way through. What’s more, while the movie tries some cutesy, fluffy humour here and there, it also goes completely off track at points with bizarre and jarring quirky, awkward comedy that feels totally out of place in such a light Christmas movie. Neither is particularly funny, but the clash of atmospheres makes things even more awkward.
Next up is the romance, which for the most part is not only irritatingly cheesier than what you normally come to expect from the average festive love story, but also plays out in bizarrely nonsensical fashion. The rom-com formula is one of the simplest and easiest to follow, and yet Last Christmas skips to and fro as it establishes the lead romance in incredibly haphazard fashion, failing to ever establish good character depth or even motivation for a love story in a way that’s either convincing or particularly enjoyable.
And alongside the poor humour and awkward romance, there’s everything in between. While the movie does do a fairly good job at being pleasantly Christmassy, the rest of its ideas are random, poorly developed and at times laughable. Whether it’s the ham-fisted attempts to play as many George Michael songs as possible, only to cut each of them off awkwardly after just a few seconds, or even the political messages that, while perfectly valid, come entirely out of left field and feel beyond forced, there’s a painful mess-up in the screenplay wherever you look.
And yet, despite all of that, Last Christmas somehow manages to prove a memorable and enjoyable watch come the end. Saving itself with a frankly ingenious final act that undoes a lot of the poor work of the earlier stages, the film is ultimately a moderately entertaining combination of cheesy, fluffy Christmas fare and some genuinely surprising ideas that, at least for the festive genre, really do stand out in the mind.
So, overall, Last Christmas is hardly a good movie, with poor comedy, character development, romance, a messy soundtrack, forced secondary themes and everything in between. However, with a few bright sparks of fresh, surprising ideas and a pleasantly cheesy Christmas atmosphere, it somehow still manages to be a bizarrely memorable and enjoyable watch, so that’s why I’m giving it a 6.5.