Last Christmas

“How much you want to bet the men here aren’t here voluntarily?” my husband asked as we settled into press row in the theater where we were screening Last Christmas. I did notice the very uneven ratio of men to women in the general admission line so I knew a losing bet when I heard one, but I couldn’t resist pointing out, “Well, I know one who took this assignment and voluntarily gave away Dr. Sleep to another reviewer.”

“Yeah, I better get spouse points for that move.”

I’ve been looking forward to screening this movie ever since I spotted the trailer on Facebook. And while I like the Mother of Dragons, it wasn’t Emilia Clarke’s face in the trailer that caught my eye. Judging from the audible sighs from the women behind me every time Henry Golding’s spoke, I wasn’t the only one who was here for the handsome man who played Nick Young in Crazy Rich Asians.

Last Christmas is the story of Kate, an aspiring singer, played with an uneven mix of snark and exuberance by Emlia Clark. Kate is seemingly stuck in Christmas purgatory, working as an elf in a Christmas store run by Santa, naturally. Santa, played with perfect condescension by Michelle Yeoh, is fed up with Kate’s lackluster effort to play a happy elf and Kate just doesn’t seem to care, having lost her drive and direction.

Her family hints at a recent illness that Kate’s mom, the acerbically astute Emma Thompson, believes Kate should still be very concerned about. Which is probably why we find Kate couch surfing at various friends’ homes, just to avoid living at home with her overbearing mom.

Enter Tom, the good-looking stranger who befriends Kate when he inadvertently puts her in the line of fire of bird poop. Despite the less than ideal meet-cute, and his strange tendency to disappear as unexpectedly as he pops up, Tom becomes Kate’s motivational cheerleader, encouraging her to have a more positive outlook and to always, “Look up!” But Tom’s presence isn’t as constant as Kate would like and Tom’s reason why is quite a revelation.

I tend to avoid movies that I suspect could render me emotionally compromised, but I’m a sucker for Christmas movies and when you combine a story written by Emma Thompson and her husband Greg Wise, with one adorable Emilia Clarke, one handsome Henry Golding and toss in beloved George Michael music, then Last Christmas is simply hard to resist.

While Last Christmas may not hit all the right notes, it’s helped by its attractive lead actors, a strong supporting cast, a few choice chuckles and just enough tugs at your heartstrings to end on a sweet, touching key.

And yes, the husband got spouse points.

3.5 out of 5 stars