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As the Holiday Season approaches, so do plenty of appropriately themed movies, and while plenty of new Christmas flicks are available on the small screen courtesy of Hallmark, there's also a movie hitting the big screen. Paul Feig's Last Christmas is this year's yuletide adventure at the movies, containing plenty of familiar faces. And while it's staying away from December because of stiff competition from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the holiday rom-com will bring a decidedly lighter feeling to theaters in November instead. At least, mostly.
The film stars Emilia Clarke in one of her first big post-Game of Thrones roles. Clarke plays a young woman named Kate, who spends her days miserably working at a Christmas-themed shop in London. While she's dressed up as a holiday elf, she fails to bring Christmas cheer to those around her, including her boss Santa (Michelle Yeoh). Kate drinks to excess, has no ambition, and doesn't have the money for a permanent home or the ability to support herself. But all of that changes when someone new comes into her life, and inspires her to rethink how she's been living in the wake of an intense medical battle.
Kate is set up as a bona fide basket case, although she's also quite charming thanks to Emilia Clarke's signature likability. While she's forced to move home with her parents, she meets the thoroughly magical Tom, played by Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding. Sparks fly between the two, and Henry eventually helps inspire Kate to appreciate her life.
This isn't Paul Feig's first Christmas movie, as he also put out the family-friendly comedy Unaccompanied Minors back in 2006, which failed to perform both critically and at the box office. While the fiscal earnings of Last Christmas remain to be seen, the movie doesn't look like it'll break the director's bad history with the subgenre.
Paul Feig is a director with a strong point of view, and you can usually see his perspective in the dialogue, costuming, and tone of his movies. But Last Christmas fails to have that same signature bite that works so well in projects like The Heat. The Christmas movie lacks a real touch, seemingly content with the feel good message of the movie, and its strong actors. While Feig's recent dark comedy A Simple Favor put a comedic spin on a Gone Girl -esque story, Last Christmas fails to bring something unique to the rom-com genre... or Christmas movies as a whole.
Last Christmas was written by the great Emma Thompson, who co-wrote the screenplay with Bryony Kimmings. Thompson also has a role as Adelia, Kate's refugee mother. Adelia's scenes are some of the movie's strongest, as the Christmas movie takes a political spin to address Brexit and immigration. Unfortunately, those strong scenes aren't necessarily strong enough to buoy the otherwise by-the-numbers romantic comedy.
One major high point is Last Christmas' soundtrack, which is made entirely of George Michael songs. While the title obviously hints at his classic Christmas flick (which was the initial inspiration for the feature) non-holiday tracks from his discography help the backdrop of the movie overall. Kate is a massive George Michael fan, so her story utilizes his myriad hit songs.
Last Christmas ends on a big plot twist, which I won't spoil here. While it's not one you necessarily see coming, it still fails to really make a big emotional impact on the story. And because it's not super successful, the ending has the potential to inspire a few eye rolls. But that isn't to place blame on the film's stars. Overall, Last Christmas stumbles because it lacks a unique perspective. Instead, we simply follow a love story, which fails to really inspire any Christmas feels.