Amanda’s Guide To Holiday Movies
My daughter Emma and I kicked off our holiday movie season, with the most yuletidy movie of the year, “Last Christmas.” Why did this movie come out in early November, leaving it almost no chance to still be out on Christmas day? You got me.
“Last Christmas” (PG-13) is “inspired by” the George Michael song of the same name, and there are plenty of other of Michael’s songs throughout the film. Of course, you do not have to be a Michael mega-fan like Emma to enjoy the movie, but if you do admire the singer, who ironically died on Christmas day in 2016, the soundtrack is an enjoyable bonus.
Kate (“Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke) is having a bad run of luck. She’s dragging her suitcase from one friend’s couch to the next, drinking alone in pubs, going home with the wrong guys and wreaking general havoc. She’s fighting with her family and has to dress like an elf to work in a year-round Christmas store.
Friends and family keep forgiving Kate because she’s recovering from a very serious illness. But we learn they can only take so much. While Kate burns the bridges around her, she meets the mysteriously perfect Tom (Henry Goulding). Why would this handsome, optimistic, benevolent stranger be interested in the fragile and inept Kate? I can’t tell you, but I can say that my daughter figured it out before I did.
“Last Christmas” is co-written by Emma Thompson who also scores the best laughs as Kate’s immigrant mother. Unfortunately, the screenplay is not quite up there with Thompson’s Oscar-winning screenplay for “Sense and Sensibility.” The leads are fine and Clarke has a lovely singing voice, but there’s no real chemistry there. Kate’s family issues are a bit contrived and the scenes at a homeless shelter never feel genuine. Michelle Yeoh does what she can as Kate’s boss, the Christmas-loving Santa, yes that’s her name, but her storyline feels like it was cut from “Love Actually.” Director Paul Feig, who brought a snappy comedic energy to “Bridesmaids,” “Spy” and “Heat,” is a bit too restrained here. Maybe he needs to stick to one-word titles?
“Last Christmas” did make me laugh and it made me cry, but ultimately it felt more like an above-average Hallmark Channel movie with a way above-average soundtrack.
Last Christmas: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
More Holiday Movies
While “Last Christmas” may be the most holiday movie of the season, there are plenty of other feel-good films coming our way in the next few weeks. Oh, and there’s also a “Jumanji” sequel, another “Charlie’s Angels” the 430th “Star Wars” film and plenty of Oscar bait.
In what might be the feel-good movie of the year, legendary nice Hollywood guy Tom Hanks plays legendary nice TV guy Mr. Rogers, in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” Mathew Rhys of “The Americans,” co-stars. (Out now)
If you have children or grandchildren you’ll be seeing “Frozen 2,” the long-awaited sequel to the 2013 animated Disney smash that urged us all to “Let it Go.” (Out now… and forever).
If you love a good adventure film, your best bet this season might be “The Aeronauts,” that reunites “The Theory of Everything” stars, Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. Set In 1862, it tells the true story of a scientist and a wealthy balloonist who attempt a record-breaking hot air balloon flight. (December 6)
I finally saw the trailer to “Cats,” and I can confirm that the “digital fur technology” that transforms Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson and Dame Judi Dench into felines, is creepy yet compelling. Is it enough to get people who aren’t fans of the Broadway blockbuster to the movies? We’ll find out on December 20.
Every Christmas, Emma and I see a movie and this year’s pick is “Little Women.” Director Greta Gerwig who was nominated for an Oscar for her extraordinary 2017 solo directorial debut “Lady Bird,” brings back that film’s stars Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chalamet for her take on Louisa May Alcott’s novel of four sisters in 1860s New England. If anyone can put a fresh spin on this well-loved and oft-filmed story, Gerwig can. (December 25).