Last Christmas is an attempt at romantic comedy, specifically geared to fill in a perceived gap in women with English accents falling for knights in shining armor. Despite the actual glut of very good movies in this genre, which are fantastic to watch over and over again, and the technical prowess of this film itself, the movie falls apart quickly as the bad idea set as the backbone of the film filters out to other aspects of the film.
Kate (Emilia Clarke) quite literally has heart problems, so it's nothing out of the ordinary that her romantic life is down in the dumps. After a massive health scare, she ends up drinking too much for too long, struggling with relationships, not taking her passion for performing seriously, and working the bare minimum at a dead-end, year-round Christmas décor job where she's supposed to offer cheer she doesn't have.
But things change when she meets a kind, handsome gentleman Tom (Henry Golding) who believes that somewhere deep inside of Kate is a heart of gold that just needs some polishing. Despite his lack of mobile phone and being seemingly glued to riding his bike everywhere, he possesses a certain charm, albeit with an over-the-top optimism.
Red flags aside, Tom and Kate pursue a mostly platonic romance despite an apparent disinterest in one another. Tom manages to reveal to Kate what a wonderful world they live in, if one only looks around to appreciate it; meanwhile Kate becomes a better version of herself, being sincere and true to herself.
The soundtrack for the film is mostly a showcase of George Michael songs, and obviously includes the Wham song, "Last Christmas," from which the movie borrows its title. While the songs have proven themselves popular over time, there just doesn't seem to be a way to connect them in this film without turning it into a full-blown musical, which it both could and arguably should have been.
Director Paul Feig (Ghostbusters, Bridesmaids) has consistently proven his magic touch for creating comic gold, and manages to squeak out some laughs here, which are a welcome break from the many other distractingly bad elements that permeate the film. The characters themselves are proficiently acted, though his coaching them in how to relate to one another is off-like a series of one-man shows that don't add up to a whole.
Writers Emma Thompson (Nanny McPhee, Bridget Jones's Baby) and her husband Greg Wise have set what seems to be an impossibly high bar for themselves-Last Christmas attempts to console the heart in the matters of international politics, immigration, same-sex love, homelessness, the mentally ill, and the joy of finding a soulmate. Without truly offering a heart to any of these issues, it comes off as pandering, shallow, and worst of all-a true waste of brilliant talent that should be at the top of its game.
Ultimately, Last Christmas would be much funnier if it were an inside joke amongst friends sitting around a dinner table talking about laughable concepts for movies. Unfortunately, nobody involved in the making of the movie stood up at any point to vocalize what a terrible idea it was, or call it off, resulting in a poor, lackluster film.