If you love George Michael as much as Kate does, you’ll definitely love how co-writer and co-star Emma Thompson was inspired by the holiday classic of the same name. The movie follows the blossoming holiday-time romance between the down-on-her luck Kate and a mysterious, charming stranger named Tom (Henry Golding).
The Paul Feig-directed flick not only incorporates the ubiquitous Christmas tune, but prominently features 14 other Michael and Wham! tracks, including “Waiting For That Day,” “Praying For Time,” “Too Funky,” “Fantasy,” and a previously unreleased song titled “This Is How (We Want You To Get High).”
Last Christmas (which is set in 2017) never mentions Michael’s untimely passing on Dec. 25, 2016, but instead is a love letter to his legacy and ongoing impact on the lives of his fans. Here’s how Feig’s Last Christmas incorporates some of Michael’s beloved hits. Some spoilers ahead.
As expected, the holiday perennial gets quite a bit of play during the movie (no less than five times, actually). The 1986 Wham! song is heard coming through some delightfully tacky, musical ornaments sold at the Christmas store where Kate works. (One of those musical decorations includes a gibbon that, believe it or not, actually plays a pretty significant part in the movie.)
But the song really hits its most emotional moment during the film’s finale in which Kate (who has struggled to find her voice) sings the classic with all her heart at a Christmas pageant.
“Everything She Wants”
We first meet Kate as a young girl singing in her Yugoslavian church choir to none other than this 1985 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1. Her mother Petra (Thompson) happily cries as her daughter powerfully sings through war time.
“Heal the Pain”
Aside from the titular “Last Christmas,” this solo 1990 Michael track arguably gets the most love in the movie. In fact, it’s the first song we hear Michael singing as we meet a now grown-up Kate trudging her way through London with nothing more than a suitcase that, of course, has an “I Love George Michael” sticker.
The song gets another rendition later in the film as a sweet and soft duet between Kate and Tom as they begin to fall for one another.
“One More Try”
Throughout Last Christmas, the handsome Tom floats in and out of Kate’s life without any explanation, much to her distress. When she fears she’s lost him for good, Michael’s Hot 100-topping ballad sets the sad scene.
“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”
In 1984, this Wham! smash went all the way to No. 1 on the Hot 100, and in 2019’s Last Christmas, the music video is used to wake up a very hungover Kate before she’s forced to go-go from crashing on her friend’s couch.
One of the more “modern” Michael songs, this 1996 solo effort plays as a forlorn Kate listens to her favorite singer coming out of the jukebox at a bar. In fact, the bar’s jukebox rivals the Christmas store ornaments and Kate herself as the thing that plays the most George Michael and/or Wham! songs.
Last Christmas has quite a few montages, but none is more satisfying than when those unforgettable, foot-tapping opening chords arrive while Kate is helping out at a homeless shelter.
Audiences will be hard-pressed not to crack a big smile when Kate does her best to make amends with all the people in her life she’s previously hurt as this classic 1990 Michael track becomes a musical symbol of forgiveness and fortitude.