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Last Christmas (2019)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/4/2020

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/12/2020

Are you familiar with the movie “3000”?  How about “Boy Rents Girl”?  No?  You may know these films by their other titles, Pretty Woman and Can’t Buy Me Love.  Yes, the working titles of both of those well-known movies were changed to names which were synonymous with song titles.  Why?  This one small tweak created an instant spark of recognition with filmgoers.  These are just two examples of a long line of movies which share monikers with songs.  The movie companies know that this is a quick shorthand that can make a film name instantly memorable.  Typically, the situation is like those described above, where the title is a marketing move.  However, we occasionally get a movie where a song is the inspiration, such as Last Christmas.

In short, Kate (Emilia Clarke) is a wreck.  An aspiring singer, she is relegated to working in a Christmas-themed shop in London, where she has to dress like an elf and answer to a woman named Santa (Michelle Yeoh).  She spends many nights drinking and hooking up with random guys, and due to behavior like this, she has difficulty maintaining a full-time residence.  She could go live with her parents (Emma Thompson and Boris Isakovic), but thanks to a recent medical scare, they have become more overbearing than usual.  When Kate meets a handsome stranger named Tom (Henry Golding), her natural defenses go up and she is cold towards him.  But, as they keep running into one another, Kate begins to warm to this upbeat and friendly man.  Can an encounter with a seemingly random stranger be enough to turn Kate’s life around?

Last Christmas is an odd little movie.  It was conceived by Emma Thompson (yes, that Emma Thompson), based on the song Last Christmas by Wham! and she actually consulted with George Michael on the project before his death.  And while it was marketed as a rom-com and released near the outset of the holiday season in 2019, the movie is more of a bittersweet drama.  Yes, there are some funny moments and some romantic moments, but the bulk of the movie is fairly serious.  At its heart, this is the story of a young woman who has suffered a serious trauma, and her reckless behavior is a direct reflection of her inability to reconcile the emotions and life changes which came with it.  Along with this aspect of the plot, the film also touches on serious topics such as homelessness and the plight of immigrants.

Which leads us directly to what is wrong with Last Christmas – it is so woefully uneven that it’s very difficult to embrace.  Let’s start with Kate.  Her behavior is very realistic for someone who has gone through what she has.  But, it’s also makes her very unlikeable.  The main character in a film like this doesn’t always have to be huggable, but her actions and attitude almost make her into a villain and the film becomes a journey for her to redeem herself.  (Wait?  Is she The Grinch?)  So, it’s obvious that the buoyant Tom is mean to be her opposite, but it almost feels as if he’s in a completely different movie.  And then we have a subplot of Santa and her new beau.  The serious elements and the cutesy elements are like oil and water here, and one can’t help by wonder if Thompson’s dramatic background and Director Paul Feig’s history of silly films did not mix.

One thing which can be said about Last Christmas is that it gets spirited performances from its two leads.  Clarke continues to try and pull away from her Game of Thrones persona throwing herself into the role with slapstick and singing.  Likewise, Golding appears to want to prove that his dashing portrayal in Crazy Rich Asians can be even more charming.  The appeal of these actors ultimately helps to make Last Christmas watchable.  Which is good, as many will be flummoxed by this rom-com which takes itself a bit too seriously, and ends with a melancholy conclusion.  (Which I actually figured out halfway through the film.)

Last Christmas did make me want to go back to London on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment.  The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps.  The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials.  The colors look very good, which works nicely in the Christmas shop, and the image is never overly dark or bright.  The level of detail is good, as we can make out textures on objects and the depth works well, giving the London locations even more life.  The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.5 Mbps.  The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects.  The many scenes in the street offer distinct surround and stereo effects, highlighting the various noises.  Some of these are highly detailed and provide a sense of space.  The subwoofer effects mostly accompany the music here.

The Last Christmas Blu-ray Disc contains a very wide array of extra features.  We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Paul Feig.  This is followed by a second COMMENTARY from Feig and Producer/Co-Writer Emma Thompson.  The Disc contains fifteen DELETED/ALTERNATE/EXTENDED SCENES which run about 23 minutes, including an intro from Feig.  There is a lot of footage here, but there are no new subplots or characters.  In addition to these scenes, we also an “Alternate Ending” (2 minutes), which they really should left in, an “Alternate Opening” (1 minute), and a 15-minute “Blooper Reel”.  “’Last Christmas’ Full Performance” (4 minutes) is a longer cut of the finale.  “Director in Vision” (2 minutes) is an odd reel which simply shows Feig moving through various sets and locations.  “It’s All So Cold” (2 minutes) takes us on-set to show the actors attempting to stay warm between shots.  “Try Not to Laugh” (6 minutes) shows Clarke and Thompson struggling to get through a shot without breaking character.  “A Legacy Revealed” (3 minutes) focuses on how George Michael’s music influenced the film and reveals that he was involved in the project before his death.  “Pure Golding” (90 seconds) looks at Henry Golding and the joi de vivre which he brought to the role.  “Emilia Recording Session” (2 minutes) takes us into the recording studio to witness Clarke singing.  “Love Letter to London” (4 minutes) examines some of the locales which were utilized and how Feig loves the city.  “Santa and Her Elf” (3 minutes) looks at the set of the Christmas shop and Yeoh’s character.  We see Paul Feig hijack a tourist bus at Universal Studios in “Paul Feig Takes Over the Tram” (4 minutes).  Paul Feig’s video diary takes us through the film in “12 Days of Production” (10 minutes).  

Review Copyright 2020 by Mike Long