Last Christmas

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S1: Right now. Charlotte great. Pay by.

S2: What’s in the box. Yo.

S3: Yo yo.

S1: Hello and welcome to another slate Spoiler Special. I’m Marissa Martinelli an assistant editor here at Slate and this week we’re spoiling last Christmas a romantic comedy starring Emilia Clarke as a woman who works in a Christmas shop and Henry Golding as the mysterious stranger who helps her out of her self-destructive rut.

S4: I’m here today with two Slate staff writers joining us from the West Coast through the magic of Christmas wishes and also Skype is a king. Hi new Hello hello. And here in the studio we have Heather should Hey Heather. Hey Marissa. So before we dive in to the bizarro plot of this movie I want to get your general impressions. Andrew let’s start with you instead of our usual thumbs up thumbs down let’s say naughty or nice.

S5: It gives me absolutely no joy to give this movie a naughty. I think my viewing experience was just sort of like sat there waiting to like the movie just like never happened.

S4: All right and you’ll be our Grinch for this conversation because I think I know right.

S6: Heather’s verdict’s gonna be my verdict is nice. I will acknowledge that this movie had many problems but from the time I saw the trailer I was so excited to see it. And I giggled throughout the movie and I just liked it. I don’t care.

S7: So there will be arson dealer who and I fall somewhere in between although I think I’m a little more on angry side.

S4: I wanted to love this movie. I adore Emilia Clarke. I’ve watched Henry Golden’s meteoric rise with interest. Paul Feig last movie a simple favor. I mean I’m a sucker for the schlocky est of Christmas movies and yet I thought this movie was just so much less than the sum of its parts.

S8: Let’s dig into why so I call this a romantic comedy in the intro but that’s actually a little bit misleading.

S4: This movie is dressed up as a romantic comedy but once you start peeling the wrapping paper it’s kind of a bait and switch and it’s not what you expected it to be. So let’s set it up. Heather wanna tell us about Amelia. Clarke Sure.

S9: Amelia Clarke is homeless.

S10: She’s traveling around.

S6: So she works in this Christmas store and she dresses as an elf and she’s traveling around her suitcase because I guess she lived with a roommate and mess that up and then her sister kicked her out or various people are always kicking her out of their apartment and she can’t live at home because she’s fighting with her mother. She’s sick or was sick last year and she’s just this tornado of a person she’s messing everything up all the time she’s messing up at work she wants to be a singer then she sees this guy one day.

S4: Well she’s kind of a fleabag style mass right. She has a very difficult family life. Her mother who’s played by Emma Thompson. They also wrote the movie who also wrote the movie. They came over from Yugoslavia. They settled in London and she has this sort of her name is Kate Emilia Clarke’s character. But we learned that her real name is Katharina And so there is a little bit of a tension between her family’s roots and her new identity as this kind of hard partying mess of a person.

S9: She takes home a lot of men too. That’s interesting that you mentioned fleabag a few reviews made that comparison. And I didn’t think of it at all. Now it seems obvious but I’m wondering if it’s just because this is the euro fleabag Season 2 or there there’s actually like a real fleabag penis to her character.

S11: I don’t think that she herself is fleabag. I think that there is like a nice toxicity to her relationship with her sister which felt very fleabag baggy. But I think like pretty much that it’s like she’s British and she has a sister the sister actually looks like fleabag sister they’re there yet look alikes a little bit.

S9: So I think you’re right about that.

S4: So part of why I wanted to like this movie so much as I love Emilia Clark love her her eyebrow game is incredible. First of all let’s just throw that out there many times during this movie I was like whoever is styling her eyebrows gets it. I wasn’t a game of thrones watcher but I’ve just really liked her in some otherwise so so movies I think she does a lot with what she’s given especially in me before you. Which is not a very good movie but she’s compelling in it and solo which I was fonder of than most people. I mean in that movie she has basically had nothing role and she gives it so much more personality than is demanded of it.

S12: Something that you don’t really get from Game of Thrones is that she’s an incredibly like charming and funny actress. And her role as De Niro is on the Game of Thrones was so self serious and basically she didn’t really have like much but like empty walls to bounce off of and here and now that she’s like constantly bantering with other people you can see that like she’s actually very lively. Also this might sound like a little bit weird but like I felt like watching her face in this movie there’s like something like mathematically perfect about her face visa be like the screen.

S11: I don’t know what it is. But like she just has like a face for the camera. And so yeah I was really waiting to like this movie. I’m like totally with you guys on all of this so far.

S7: We’ll see where we diverge and where Heather liked it. I didn’t like it. So among the people who Kate bounces off of is someone called Santa anger Who is Santa.

S11: Santa is Kate’s boss at this Christmas Store. We find out later on thankfully that Santa is her actual name. Also Santa is played by Michelle Yeoh and both Michelle Yeoh and Henry Golding starred in The Crazy Rich Asians. Spoiler alert Michelle Yeoh does not play Henry Golden’s mom which I thought might be like one of the twists and things here. But we can lay that to rest now. And so Michelle Yeoh basically starts out as this like very like almost stereotypical like dragon lady sort of character where if Kate is not paying attention to something at her job she’ll like throw something at her employees head. She calls her elf yes instead of her actual name. And so she seems to very severe. But as the movie goes along we find that she has like a lot more warmth to her under all of that ice.

S4: I spoke to multiple people who thought that Michelle Yeoh was going to be Henry Lang’s characters mother to the point where I had to go back and watch the trailer to establish that that wasn’t the case. There’s like some alternate universe where people just assume that she was going to play his mother and we’re so firmly convinced that I had to be like No I’ve seen the movie now. It doesn’t happen.

S13: I didn’t assume that at all. But I think maybe we’re just so used to movies not being diverse that maybe when you see two Asian characters that that’s the assumption which is kind of sad.

S12: Well I mean I think that the other thing is that like when Kate first sees Tom it’s when she’s working and he’s right outside the store. And usually when she sees him or at least more than once like it’s when she goes outside of the shop that he’s always there. And so like for a while I thought Is he haunting the shop. So I don’t think it’s like completely outside the realm of possibility.

S7: I think also they just milked that relationship so much on late night and in press that mentally we’ve just come to pair these two actors in that way. What did we think of Santa in this movie. I found it a little bit strange. The conflation of classic rom com secondary plot. She’s kind of the BSF to our main character she’s kind of a maternal figure but not really has no other friends.

S9: Does she or. I guess she has her friend who kicked her out the pregnant friend right.

S7: She has difficult relationships and Santa is the only one who really gives her a second chance in the course of the movie. Everyone else gets tired of her behavior. But Santa is the one who when Kate doesn’t lock up the shop and they get robbed she says I’m giving you a second chance because I’m a good person. I didn’t get much of a sense of the relationship beyond that. Look I didn’t really get a sense of why Santa gave this ungrateful girl a second chance beyond the stated explanation that she was a good person and she used to be a good employee.

S6: I guess before she had her health troubles. Santa says that yeah I. I wish there had been sort of like a. A cuter reason that Santa’s own this Christmas shop and just a little more spark to that whole thing. And yeah we find out her name isn’t Santa but but it it just kind of doesn’t make that much sense. Just like the rest of the movie.

S14: Right.

S15: There are a lot of loose threads in this movie.

S4: Totally and explanations that if you really think about them for more than two seconds they don’t hold up. I think that was my main issue with the movie is a lot of it seemed like throwing stuff at the wall without thinking through how thematically it connects to the rest of the movie because even the Christmas shop itself it’s very kitschy.

S7: You have people coming in who are sort of LA. It’s Christmas and the stuff in the shop I were supposed to think of it as tacky. I mean at one point there a light a Christmas Gibbon or something like that.

S6: That’s very funny and it’s a sight gag who comes into the shop since we’re spoiling. Who’s the first customer we see. It’s Patti LaBelle. Oh well first of a few random cameos in this movie. Yeah I think the Christmas shop could have been funnier. Patty the poems thing was like she was trying to pick between Baby Jesus is. Was that her.

S7: She was. Yeah. I don’t know necessarily that it could have been funnier. I think they milked it for the gags. I was just waiting for the turning point in the movie where we were supposed to love and value this Christmas shop as much as Santa does. And I felt it never delivered. I guess that’s that’s part of exploring the larger role that Christmas plays in this movie. It’s called last Christmas for reasons that we will get into very shortly.

S4: Well let’s first talk about Henry Golding who is so handsome and so charming and I wanted so much more for him than what he was given to do in last Christmas.

S7: So crazy rich Asians. He was sort of a revelation in that he is so handsome and charming his character doesn’t have a ton of depth but it works for the movie. He’s almost the prize right.

S4: He’s the guy that you get once you’ve endured all of the hardships and then in a simple favor he’s kind of playing on the same persona but in that case he’s the dupe right. He’s good looking and easily manipulated and he’s the handsome husband and it’s a similar role except that the outcome is not to get the guy. He’s the third wheel to the relationship between two women in this movie.

S16: It kind of stretches that to the extreme where he’s a manic pixie dream boy with very little inner life who exists purely to get Kate off her phone.

S9: Is is he a manic pixie dream boy or is she a manic pixie dream girl. I think she has more of the Manic Pixie thing going on with with how she dresses and just kind of being quirky he’s a little more just like a hot guy you know visually.

S16: Sure.

S4: She kind of could fit that embodiment but I think he absolutely fills the role of many picks manic pixie dream boy who comes along.

S14: I don’t think he literally tomorrow in this free reign he literally twirls in the street. I don’t know like how much more manic pixie or you can get.

S9: He doesn’t have any like cute little quirks like his main. He’s constantly saying oh my god my eyes look up but that’s not that’s not in the classic manic pixie dream girl sounds like it should be a little quirky or them that it shouldn’t just be like look up Heather he’s quirky as fuck. I agree that he’s kind of a blank character but he’s not a manic pixie dream boy. There’s nothing like alter like indie or there’s nothing like that about him. He’s a Himba.

S11: I don’t think that that is supposed to be the defining. I get what you’re saying about like the visual coding but I think that in a classic manic pixie dream girl like formula she is the one who is like the press and the world weary and just like talk makes jokes about like how she wants to die all the time and basically he comes then and is like you know what. You’re actually like not looking around enough for you to like appreciate what you truly have. And so basically he sort of like appears at random moments. He tells her he doesn’t have a phone in the year 2017 and that is not old enough for you. I don’t know what to tell you.

S16: It’s my hope is that he does have a phone it’s that he locked it in a cupboard. That to me is the epitome of Manic Pixie.

S11: He shows her like these like different areas of London that like she had never been to before. And also he volunteers at a homeless shelter at which point she’s sort of there’s something like come on because he’s too poor.

S9: Yeah. And I think that was a good explanation of it. I think you’re right in that he does sort of pop up to open her world but is it just bland writing that he volunteers at the most boring place and he rides a bike like he’s very bland for a manic pixie dream boy. If that is what he is and maybe maybe that’s there’s a gendered thing in that it’s easier to be manic pixie as a woman than it is as a man. But anyway let’s move on. Yeah.

S7: He is saintly to the point where I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and him to show a little spark and I don’t know some kind of an edge and it never comes. We’ve gone this far without talking about the twist of the movie which is basically the whole movie.

S4: So we should just lay it out.

S9: So Henry Holding’s character whose name is Tom appears throughout the movie at seemingly random intervals but really whenever Kate’s at her lowest for the most part and you notice he only talks to Kate or she’s the only one he interacts with. Right.

S7: Right. Which is a red flag.

S11: You also know that felt like so throughout the first half of the movie before she ends up having to go home. She carries around like a suitcase with her all the time. And for such a saintly guy he never takes her suitcase which is quite notable in London and cobblestone roads. And so that was like the first inkling other than like the trailer and the title where I was like oh something is off with him right.

S7: And the thing that turns out to be off with him is that he actually died and was an organ donor his heart wound up transplanted into Kate after she had her unspecified illness. And so literally she’s carrying his heart inside her and he does not appear to anyone else in the movie which is one of those very like six NC.

S15: Oh of course once you get to that moment and it’s revealed in fact with a montage of scenes that we’d previously seen where Tom is with Kate but now we see that Kate was actually alone the whole time and I gotta say Tom’s kind of a dick because one of those scenes is him covering her while she gets changed in the middle of the street.

S7: And if he knew that he was transparent and he just let her change in the middle of the street I’m not buying it.

S9: Yeah well that opens up all these interesting questions like Is he a ghost. Is he a figment of her imagination. Like does he have his own inner thoughts where he could have expressed that or was Kate like creating him. Like how would he have been able to say anything.

S7: I think the movie wants us to believe he’s a ghost right. The fact that he brings her to his flat where he used to live and knows where that is the fact that he really did leave a phone in his cupboard which somehow remained untouched and none of the realtors noticed the fact that he approaches her at one point and says that he has to tell her something suggests to me that he is a ghost with his own independent thoughts and feelings.

S9: With that said I found that a really unsatisfying you know is that he’s not the kind of ghost where you know she’s still kissing him. He’s there. He’s not like walking through walls. So like what kind of ghost is he. Right.

S15: And in that montage of scenes where we see that she was actually herself the whole time the movie does not show us her just like making out with the air. We were spared that sight.

S9: We were. I just wish they would have made it clear either he’s a ghost and he hasn’t passed on to the next stage of life or she was imagining him or I I just wanted that to be answered definitively because now I have all these questions.

S17: I was pretty sure that that was well the twist of the movie was going to be. And then I got really annoyed that Emma Thompson took the lyrics off last Christmas I gave you my heart and took that in like the most literal direction possible and it really annoyed me but then I was also like it was it only his heart that was not damaged in his fatal bike accident. Is he also going around to like every single other person who received his organs and also trying to make their lives better and also like why is he doing this why now.

S16: Right. Because she’s been a mess for a long time.

S14: Yeah. Come on.

S7: That’s a good point though. Does the guy who got his liver also get nice romantic walks with Henry Golding or is it just his heart that he’s possessive of don’t you guys think it’s kind of clever that she took the lyric literally. No I’m.

S10: Really stretching the limits of that word.

S16: I actually don’t have a problem with the twist itself and in fact I think that if it had been executed differently I would really love it because I listen. One of my favorite Christmas movies ever is the spirit of Christmas which is 100 percent about a woman who falls in love with a ghost. Highly recommended. It’s on Netflix.

S7: This was too precious about the twist. It saved it for you know the third act of the movie and it’s the big reveal and it’s kind of the only thing that happens really. And I think if they had introduced it earlier and explored it with her knowing that he’s not real that would have been a much more interesting movie. I just also feel like there’s something really weird and iffy about the idea that like organ donation it’s such an altruistic act that.

S11: Like not only did he give her his heart he has to like come back from the dead to intervene in her life to make it better and repair her relationship with her family like all of that.

S15: I just felt like was too much and to stop her from literally destroying his heart because she’s eating junk. And like hard partying and one of the things that changes over the course of the movie is she starts eating like fruit bowls and green juices.

S11: Something does happen in the movie.

S4: Martha what can be in quotation marks be called the plot of the movie.

S9: Well this is a little bit of a trope right. There are other movies like there’s that movie with Minnie Driver. Where returned to me. She gets a new heart or someone gets a new heart and they fall in love because of that. And I I feel like that happens sometimes.

S12: And I think it’s sad David to cover the.

S17: His wife dies and then he falls in love with the woman who he discovers got his wife’s heart. I think that’s the plot in any case I don’t like any of this. I don’t know why we need to have romances based on the organ transplants and it’s such like a Hollywood like woo idea of leg how body parts to work it’s like kind of creeps me out.

S15: Honestly I will say that in the scene where this finally all comes to light Tom says something along the lines of I always as. Heather Hansen has it ready shopping notebook here take care of my heart.

S9: It was always going to be yours one way or another. Oh.

S16: That’s very sweet and kind of gross. Also like he’s one step away from being like I’ll always be inside you.

S9: But we were talking about this. Did he like meet her oh her in any way before he died. Like what does he mean. It was always going to end up with her.

S7: Right. I think one thing that would have improved this movie greatly is some kind of flashback scene where the two characters met even just brushing elbows before he died to kind of explain why he has formed such an attachment to her because it’s a pretty one sided relationship.

S9: See to me yet all of this lends itself more toward him being imaginary and in her head than being a ghost but it doesn’t really matter ultimately if he had been in her head it would explain a lot more and this would become a movie about self-love.

S15: What a strange quality of his character is that he’s pretty much completely sexless. Oh yeah. They do kiss at some point but otherwise it’s a very chaste little romance they’re having.

S6: She asks him to.

S7: Well he looks like Henry Golding so she can rip my clothes.

S6: She’s like let’s lie down and he just kisses her. So disappointing.

S15: One thing I will say is as much as I hate that they ripped a lyric out of last Christmas I do appreciate one movie that the three of us actually spoiled was always be my baby and one of my gripes with that movie is that it’s a pun on the Mariah Carey song but it doesn’t really engage with the lyrics. This movie is so focused on the song. Yes.

S9: Thank you. SS You are correct. George Michael is a ballad. This movie. Oh he is yeah. All his songs are in it and it actually has a great soundtrack. It makes it really fun.

S17: Like this is also my other like big gripe with the movie.

S18: So Kate is ostensibly a singer and throughout the movie she sort of like goes from audition to audition to realizing that maybe she’s not really going to make another singer. She spends a lot of time at the homeless shelter where Tom sensibly volunteers and what she ends up doing is throwing a Christmas pageant with a lot of the residents at the homeless shelter. And so you see her sort of like that like Francis Hall sort of track where once she gives up like practicing the art that she loves she thought that she’s like going to go in like a more teaching or instructor kind of role. Right. But even though she the thinker like we don’t really get to hear her thing except for last Christmas.

S6: What song does she sang in her audition. She auditions for a musical.

S9: My favorite things are the things from Sound of Music and Rob Delaney is one of the producers. For some reason or people she’s auditioning for. Yeah. He’s like the American that they cast and a lot of these things like Rob Delaney is around right. Yeah. And her voice isn’t that great in it. And you’re kind of like why. Like are we supposed to think that she’s got a new heart. And that changed her whole personality and voice or.

S7: And now one thing that’s never really engaged with is why George Michael. She has an eye hurt. George Michael little sticker on her suitcase and she clearly cares about him a lot but it doesn’t really align with her stated worldview where she wants to. I mean she’s half joking but she wants to die at 27 and become like a Kurt Cobain type figure. But her obsession is with George Michael who died certainly you know 53 is young but it’s not like Kurt Cobain young you know that’s all 26 year olds love. Boomer icons.

S10: As an almost 26 year old I have to say I’m really excited for my George Michael phase.

S15: Let’s talk about the homeless shelter and the role of homelessness in this movie. Heather you earlier were saying that he was homeless but the movie actually corrects her cause she says she’s homeless and then Tom who’s a goody goody says you’re not really homeless and then she has to correct herself and feel like I have no place to stay and then we see what real homelessness looks like.

S7: I found the homeless shelter a little bit mawkish and sentimental. The movie doesn’t engage with the treatment of homeless people or the causes of homelessness. It’s really a vehicle for Kate to become a better person yeah.

S9: It’s so corny and basic likely. There’s not one more level to it than that.

S14: You’re supposed to be defending this movie.

S18: I will say that one thing I really liked about the movie is that it is a movie that both gives you a fantasy of London while also giving you a little bit of the reality of London. And what I mean by that is that like the shop where Kate works is like this. Like I think pretty fancy area and you see like a lot of like the higher end store. It’s like how they’re brightly lit and like the place where she works is like a much cleaner and like nicer looking than the house in which I think we’re supposed to assume she grew up where her parents still live which is like outside of town and not very brightly lit and sort of like also a little tacky looking yeah it’s shaped like a box.

S19: And so what I really like about this is that like it gives you like that like super shiny version of London but you can also see that like pretty much all of the characters that we’re engaged with don’t really like conform to the movie’s notion of like what fancy charming like British people are like. We learn early on. She’s the daughter of like Yugoslavian refugees. Henry Golding is not a white person Santa is not a white person. I think pretty much all of the friends that Kate has are not white people. And for me like the homelessness thing sort of like was like part of all of that in that you have this like shiny London that like everyone sort of has fantasies about and yet like London has like a huge housing crisis right now because like in pretty much like all major Western cities like all of the costs of living are sky high. And so you just have these like terrible class inequality problems. And to me like that’s how I took the movie and like how I took the homelessness crisis problem sure.

S7: I think that’s fair. I mean it’s a movie that’s making I think a deliberate effort to be socially conscious and in fact it’s very deliberately set in 2017. In the midst of Brexit a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment and it engages with that stuff.

S15: We have some Eastern European immigrants on a bus who very like Chevy British guy yells at them to speak English and go back to their country.

S7: And we also see the impact on Kate’s mom as she’s watching TV and she says they hate us as people are calling for the UK to pull out of the EU.

S18: Her mom is specifically afraid that like she will be forced to return to Yugoslavia even though I think they’ve been in London for like 15 or so years.

S6: And then we have her dad also who was hadn’t had a good job in Yugoslavia was he a lawyer or. And then he here he drives a cab or he drives Uber because he couldn’t retrain and her dad and her mom are fighting in some unspecified way where her dad is always out of the house because he doesn’t want to deal with the mom. And everyone talks about how bad the mom is. But we we don’t really see her do anything that bad.

S9: But back to Brexit I found the Brexit stuff sort of tacked on or I it just seemed like it it was trying to make the movie more relevant or something but I didn’t think it fully like integrated with the rest of the movie. I really like.

S19: Not specifically I think the Brexit stuff. But I think that led to in the last scene you have Kate who has realised that Tom is like not a living human being like back at the homeless shelter and basically she’s thinking last Christmas and then like there is like a moment where the curtain draws and you see that like a bunch of the people from the homeless shelter are also singing along and it’s just like nice cute moment of like I don’t know sort of like not like diversity specifically but just like this idea that like all of these different people belong and I found it to be this like really adorable shockingly for such a like shoddy movie like really moving. And yet at the same time like there were like all of these parts to the movie’s effort to be like diverse and inclusive. So like lip service theme I think like one moment is when it. Is sort of like Emma Thompson’s whole character where she’s like simultaneously supposed to be this woman that like we feel bad for because she is afraid that like there’s going to be like a resurgence of anti immigrant rhetoric and she’ll have to go back to you saw Libya at the same time. Emma Thompson plays her with this like we’re like Central European or Eastern European shtick. And she’s like made up to be like not quite like grotesque looking but like pretty leg on the track. And there was just this like weird tension there between like the good intentions of the movie but also like looking at the movie or like the movie is like sort of distance toward like first generation immigrants I guess I think Santa is like another good example where you’re supposed to like feel like Santa is like a character who is like ultimately someone you can relate to because she’s not just sort of like this like dragon lady stereotype. But at the same time like she’s supposed to be like from China and one way that they explain all of the tackiness in the Christmas Store is that like it’s because it’s from China. And so I think that like the movies like wants to embrace immigrants but also sort of like keeps them out like a sort of weird distance that didn’t quite work for me. And I also could not believe that like it isn’t like George Michael’s parents also from Greece and therefore he’s also like part of an immigrant narrative but you never hear like George Michael’s number one fan who is also from an immigrant family. Talk about that ever. And so there were just like other parts of that just like felt like it was very much non immigrants trying to like right from the perspective of an immigrant family and not really getting there.

S4: I agree that the movie throws a lot of these ideas in there and as a result they’re all kind of half baked because there’s only so much you can do in an hour and 40 minutes. I will say that I mean one topic we have barely touched on is the role of chronic illness in this movie which is actually a pretty major part of Kate’s character and significant to her relationship with her mother and Emma Thompson’s character actually worked for me in that she was so contradictory she is this maybe somewhat exaggerated overbearing mother she does have this very put on accent the foundation of her character is that she likes to feel needed and Kate on generously sort of attributes that to her illness her mother felt like she was getting all the attention and that’s why she took on the role of the caretaker. But I think Thompson plays it with a certain vulnerability that does relate to her not wearing makeup and when the scene that they have with the doctor she’s in a very maternal role even though her child is in her 20s and could speak for herself but won’t. And I really like the performance. I thought it worked for me. I felt less generous about Sandy’s character which felt more shoehorned in. She has a strange romance with a Danish guy who loves sauerkraut. I felt very much that that was a nonimmigrant perspective trying to give ethnic specificity and racial specificity to these characters in a way that just felt broad and stereotypical.

S9: Well even with Kate the main character so we find out that actually her name is Catarina and she’s been hiding that. So I feel like we didn’t get to see any indication you know. Is she ashamed of her background because of her mother. Or why did she changed her name like presumably and that never gets resolved. And we should talk about the sister too.

S6: So at one point Kate out her sister to her parents her sister is living with a roommate who is actually her girlfriend. And the parents didn’t know that but that seems fine. The sister it just forgives her and the parents. Emma Thompson and the dad just accept it. What did we think of that part.

S15: They crammed so much into a couple of scenes where we find out that she became a lawyer because their father couldn’t be a lawyer and she feels that she’s had to take on all the responsibility and the expectations of the family. But no I none of the relationships in this movie were really that fleshed out.

S4: So it’s true that once Kate outs her a little bit at first she’s cold toward her but she does get over it pretty quickly in terms of the runtime of this movie and the whole thing is so cruel of retaliatory and like this movie keeps telling you that Kate is a mess.

S20: And the editing scene was sort of like the only time where I actually got the sense that she was a mess.

S7: Right. It’s one of the only acts of deliberate cruelty because we’ve seen Kate be thoughtless and forget to lock a door and accidentally light a matchstick ship on fire and crush an elaborate sort of constructed lantern that her friend is making by accident. She kills a fish because she’d heard hairdryer falls in the tank but all of that stuff is just being klutzy and careless.

S4: But that is definitely the moment in the movie where you’re like it’s time to get your shit together with your magic ghost your manic pixie organ donor.

S9: But with the parents remember the parents were fighting and like we’re on the brink of divorce or or Kate asked Why don’t you guys get divorced. They never did anything with that did they. That’s another lesson in the quilt of this movie that is comprised of nothing but loose ends.

S6: But we had the hint of another romance did we not. Of like Amelia Clark’s character there was this other guy at the homeless shelter. Did you guys think that was like being suggested at all.

S7: Oh yeah. There they were definitely hinting at it in fact I was very surprised the movie ended without them making a date or kissing her or something like that.

S6: Yeah I was surprised that they didn’t do something a little more explicit with that.

S7: Well it’s a romantic comedy and for the main character it’s not a romantic comedy. It’s billed as a romantic comedy and it’s dressed up in the trappings of a romantic comedy but if you pull it that ribbon all of a sudden you unwrap. It’s like socks or something. It’s one of those Christmas presents that did not deliver. So I was surprised she ended up alone which is part of why I wanted Tom’s character to be a delusion. Because then it’s like oh it’s a rom com but it’s actually about self-love. And she’s externalizing the need to take care of herself until she learns to actually take care of herself. I mean there’s a scene between Tom and Kate where they’re in his flat which is meticulously neat because no one has lived there because he’s dead. Where he’s cradling her head and he basically says you’re kind of a mess and he listens to her and he puts her to bed and he kisses her. And it is like a moment of oh that could reasonably be self care of her accepting that she’s a mess and realizing that she needs to take care of herself and get her act together.

S19: But then the movie didn’t do that as much as like I found this horrendously corny. I also don’t like the idea that like we’re just like brushing off all corny laughs.

S7: I don’t think the problem with the movie is that it’s corny. I mean as I’ve said I liked the twist that he is dead and that she has his heart literally. I think the execution was really poor and they didn’t do enough to establish the relationships and the dialogue wasn’t doing it for me. It was some of that like too clever for its own good dialogue at certain points. Like at one point Michelle Yeoh Santa puts her hand on Kate’s shoulder and instead of just letting the moment sit like they have to tag it. So Kate had to say what is this physical affection. I just that rubs me the wrong way. So the premise is not the issue and the twist is not the issue. It’s just a movie that doesn’t know what to do before the twist is introduced. It’s just Kate being a mess with no external driving force for the plot. It’s a collection of vignettes.

S20: I think also what have worked for the movie for me is that if there was like a reason for Henry Golding to do any of these things like maybe he was like a bad person and this was his purgatory or there was like something that was still niggling at him like about his existence on earth if he had like literally anything to do like other than like selflessly help this complete stranger like that.

S7: I think what made the movie work for me it also begs the question What was his life like before he died. Because we only see about 30 seconds before he gets hit by a truck. He says that he volunteers at a homeless shelter. Did he actually volunteer at the homeless shelter. Yeah no intern had heard of him because when she goes in and asks for Tom no one says Oh there used to be a Tom but he stopped showing up. Also he got hit by a truck. There is no moment of that and he’s so you know under developed that we don’t get a sense of it which is why I wish he were a figment of her imagination because he he’s not though because he knows the location of his flat and he knows that there’s a phone in the cupboard unless this whole thing was a dream. And Kate actually imagined all of it which I don’t think she did. But I I think that Henry Golding and Amelia Clark as actors deserved better than the script because they’re both really appealing and fun to watch but they’re so appealing and fun to watch and we’re so starved for rom coms like this one was pretty fun.

S9: I would watch it again and I got it for popcorn.

S7: That’s a testament to the acting from a pretty flimsy script. I also enjoyed Emma Thompson and I know the jury’s out. Her delivery at the end of the movie of the line you know we’re gonna eat the lesbian pudding got the biggest laugh in our theater of the whole movie. Other than the revelation of the Twist which was not supposed to be funny and should not have gotten a laugh even like the lesbian putting line which I thought was like a fun line is like ultimately like a joke on her and like her bad English or her bad manners or whatever.

S20: Right. Yeah I thought it was more that she’s just once she’s an overbearing parent who says things that embarrass her kids I don’t think that she was meant to because there’s like a point where like she like all of the younger people sort of like are giving each other like What the fuck faces and like laughing and like she turns her husband and is thought of as like a what. Like what I say. Like that type of thing.

S17: You know what this movie made me realize.

S20: Like I have that organ donor like sticker or whatever like on my driver’s license and I am pretty sure that like no matter who my organs go to I do not care at all like what happens to those body parts. I will definitely not waste my dumb afterlife coming back to earth so that I can like help some idiot get her life together like wow I know this movie does not make the case for that being a thing that’s like any ghost or angel or whatever would reasonably do.

S15: If you watch a lot of garbage Christmas movies which I do you know that if there’s gonna be some supernatural Christmas nonsense in your movie there has to be some kind of artifact that makes it happen. Or like a stranger on the street who is kind of mysterious and like an old timer who you you know you spill your coffee on him and don’t apologize and he puts a curse on you.

S7: There was no inciting incident and he was absolutely right. She just sees a guy looking up and it turns out that he’s always wearing the same clothes and he only comes around when she’s in crisis there is no explanation for why he would be haunting her other than the fact that he was an organ donor.

S9: What his heart even fit inside her body.

S20: She felt it felt weird. So I assume it fits. But like not well. But. I actually have a terrible accident.

S19: Maybe about 10 years ago where this is a weird story to get them to buy a game died 10 years ago.

S20: I broke my collarbone in an accident and basically like it fused back together and like that sort of zigzag. And so like one side of my body it’s like actually shorter than the other because instead of like a straight line for a collarbone I have like a weird the sort of formation and the doctor did tell me that like that side of my body would feel a little bit weird because like my organs were a little bit more squished together on that side that had sent me into a spiraling depression and forced me to become homeless because I am a spoiled brat who doesn’t want to go live with her parents but would rather land of podcast kids.

S19: Like everywhere I go though. Sorry. This movie sucks God.

S14: And yet you still love the movie.

S7: Yeah I really admire Heather’s determination to love this movie in hopes that it turns into a better movie that seems in the spirit of last Christmas.

S9: I think it’s possible it could be a Christmas miracle.

S1: That’s our show. Please subscribe to the slate spoiler special podcast feed. And if you like the show rate and review it in the Apple podcast store or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have suggestions for movies or TV shows we should spoil or you have any other feedback you’d like to share. Please send it to spoilers at Slate dot com our audio engineer is married Jacob our producer is Rosemary Belson for Heather and Ingo. I’m Maurice Martinelli. Thanks for listening.