A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Last Christmas is a holiday romcom that centers on Kate (Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke), who survived a life-threatening illness and now shows signs of depression. She engages in reckless behavior -- drinking too much, acting irresponsibly, and hooking up for casual sex (nudity is implied in at least one scene) -- and is on the verge of being homeless. Her parents fled to England during Yugoslavia's civil war, and the movie addresses anti-immigrant sentiment. The film is quite diverse; characters represent a range of ethnicities, sexual orientations, disabilities, and nonstereotypical gender roles. There are also positive representations of a same-sex couple (a subplot involves them being forced out of the closet) and residents of a homeless shelter. The benefits of doing service work and unplugging to engage with the world around you are some of the film's messages. Swearing is mostly "s--t" and British sexual slang ("wanker," "shag," "snog"). Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) and Emma Thompson co-star, and the film heavily features music from George Michael and Wham!
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In LAST CHRISTMAS, we meet unlucky Londoner/aspiring singer Kate (Emilia Clarke), who's made many poor decisions, including taking a job as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop. Her overbearing Yugoslavian immigrant mother, Petra (Emma Thompson), and her friends are worried about her, especially after a life-threatening illness. As the true Christmas season approaches, Kate keeps running into Tom (Henry Golding), a big-hearted volunteer who seems to inspire her to turn her life around. But she worries that he might be too good to be true.
Is it any good?
British holiday romcoms are expected to deliver a little naughty and a whole lot of nice; Thompson's latest screenwriting effort does both, but the film doesn't twinkle as much as she does. Thompson came up with the story and wrote the script based around the music of her friend, the late George Michael. Thompson's voice is prominent; in fact, Kate's dialogue sizzles if you picture Thompson saying the lines rather than Clarke. Golding proves that he could easily play romantic heroes for the rest of his life, especially when he's channeling Cary Grant, as it seems he intentionally does here. Last Christmas is cute enough and delivers some surprises, but the scene stealer is unquestionably Thompson. She plays Petra with witty conviction, whether she's trying to understand the English translation of a dirty joke or singing Christmas dirges.
What's disappointing is that the film is based on a Captain Obvious-level pun. Happiness and sentimentality are delivered on a platter, along with rousing songs and a happy ending, but when the twist is revealed, tears will be shed -- and eyeballs will roll. You may not see it coming, but in the end it feels like the idea of the film came from two giggling teens. Entire TV networks are dedicated to churning out Christmas movies during the holidays, and cheese and corn are always the first two ingredients. But somehow it feels like one of the grand dames of British cinema should have offered something a little meatier.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss the connection between gratitude and happiness. Do people feel happier when they're helping others? Why?
Discuss the romantic comedy genre: How does this film stack up? Why do you think audiences are drawn to these kinds of films? What does Last Christmas tell us about love compared with other romcoms?
Talk about the diversity in the film: Do you think it's an accurate take on what you'd see in a major city? Why is representation in the media important?
- In theaters: November 8, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: February 4, 2020
- Cast: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson
- Director: Paul Feig
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Holidays, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: language and sexual content
- Last updated: February 4, 2020
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