AS the first Christmas romantic comedy to grace the big screen in more than a decade, Last Christmas has big shoes to fill and some dedicated Christmas movie fans to satisfy.
Kate (Emilia Clarke) is your typical “hot mess”: she wears a leopard print coat and smudged eyeliner, drinks too much and is fast running out of friends’ couches to sleep on.
She also works in an all-year-round Christmas shop dressed as an elf run by the formidable Santa (Michelle Yeoh).
Her ‘meet cute’ moment is less cute when she notices Tom (Henry Golding) outside the shop staring up at a bird, only to have the bird poo in her eye.
Eventually Kate cannot help but fall for this charming manic pixie dream man, despite the fact that, because he does not have a phone, she only ever sees him via random encounters on the streets of London.
Meanwhile, she is ignoring calls from her overbearing Yugoslavian mother (Emma Thompson) who has not been the same since Kate recovered from an illness last year.
There is a lot going on in Last Christmas, added to all of the above are references to Brexit, a romantic side plot for Santa, Kate attends singing auditions and a homeless shelter is played for laughs.
Thompson’s funny if sometimes bizarre script keeps the film at a cracking pace and Clarke’s likeable performance makes Kate an enjoyable person to spend time with.
However, even a cursory glance at the lyrics of the song Last Christmas will spoil the twist and when it is revealed, it comes across as laughable rather than anything meaningful.
George Michael’s hits make up the soundtrack and provide some much needed emotional weight.
Last Christmas is like a Christmas cracker from Kmart, it looks pretty and makes a loud noise, but what is inside is disappointingly banal.
And with Netflix now ruling the kingdom of “so bad they’re good” Christmas movies, we should expect better from our cinema fare.
Last Christmas (PG)
Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson
Review by Lucy Rutherford
In cinemas now