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Queen Latifah is absolutely delightful in Wayne Wang's romantic comedy, LAST HOLIDAY. Latifah stars as Georgia Byrd, a reserved plus-sized woman who lives a dreary, ordinary life in pre-Katrina New Orleans, where she dreams of an elegant existence filled with fancy food, stylish clothing, and high-society parties. But she spends most of her evenings eating frozen dinners all alone, often thinking about a shy coworker (LL Cool J) she has a crush on. When she is suddenly diagnosed with a terminal illness and given three weeks to live, she collects her savings and decides to go crazy, doing all those things she would never allow herself to do before. She heads for one of the world's ritziest hotels, the Grand Hotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic, where she takes advantage of every luxury she can, from spa treatments to downhill ski runs to helicopter trips to designer shopping excursions. While her lavish appetite is admired by a gourmet chef (Gerard Depardieu, showing agile comic skill), she is deemed a potential threat by a corporate bigwig (a slick Timothy Hutton). She's also none too happy to find her too-smooth senator (Giancarlo Esposito) enjoying a lush vacation instead of serving his community. Latifah simply lights up the screen in a somewhat different version of the role played by Alec Guinness in Henry Cass's 1950 original. This version of LAST HOLIDAY has been updated with a playful pop soundtrack, Geoffrey Simpson's beautiful photography, William Arnold's bright and colorful production design, and an enjoyable, lighthearted pace from director Wang (DIM SUM, THE JOY LUCK CLUB, and MAID IN MANHATTAN).
My sister and I were both having a really bad work week, stressful and anxiety-producing. So we went together to see this when it was in the theaters. We were so delighted by every minute of the movie. I immediately bought three copies when it came out on DVD. One for me (natch), one for my aunt, and another copy for a female cousin's birthday. I highly recommend the film for a Girls-Night-In party with cocktails, snacks and hors d'oeuvres.
Queen Latifah plays a retail clerk (Georgia) who is incorrectly told she has only a few months to live. As she's been carefully clipping coupons and saving her money for years, she has quite a savings account built up. She decides to use up her entire savings to live life to the fullest while she still can.
She leafs through her dream scrapbook she's created with clippings of places she'd like to vacation, and settles on a lavish European hotel, "Grandhotel Pupp." Meanwhile as she looks through her scrapbook, you discover her crush on Sean, played by LL Cool J.
It's thoroughly enjoyable to watch the character's "fish out of water" moments as she arrives in the grand hotel. She's quiet, restrained, classy and appreciative, unlike many of the pampered rich guests staying there at the same time. She notices the beautiful gold-leafed ceiling, surprising the hotel clerk who works under it who never thinks to look at it.
Alicia Witt, the pretty red-head girl from "Mr. Holland's Opus" plays a snooty, spoiled girl having an affair with her boss. Watching her blossom and transform her way of treating people under Georgia's example, is heartwarming.
Georgia proceeds to pamper herself with a shopping trip for gorgeous gowns (Not quite as delicious as the shopping scene from Pretty Woman, but still fun to watch) and treatments at the spa. Along the way you watch her interact kindly and politely with the hotel's staff. I loved watching her order "one of everything" that Chef Didier (played by Gerard Depardieu) cooked that evening, so she could taste a little bit of everything.
I won't spoil the ending, but you can imagine there are some interesting things ahead when it turns out Georgia was diagnosed incorrectly and is not going to die any time soon.
It's a fun morality play that isn't in your face, encouraging us all to live life to the fullest, enjoy our surroundings, and treat people well. Plus it's fun to see the costumes, gorgeous hotel, and European scenery.
Last Holiday is the perfect blend of sugar and spice, combining drama, spirituality and comedy in a way that people of all ages will appreciate.
Enter the radiant Queen Latifah as Georgia Byrd, an expert sales associate, in the culinary accessories department at Kragen's Department store, and a culinary genius at night, who tests her recipes on a young adolescent neighbor who clearly has a crush on her. Enter LL Cool J as, Ms. Byrd's coworker & secret crush, Shawn. A freak accident leads to a misdiagnosis by a quirky corporate physician and off goes Georgia on an European jaunt to GrandHotel Pupp in to peel off the starched layers of her conservative existence to finally live the life that she's dreamed about, mingling with dignitaries, politicians and the owner of Kragen's, Matthew Kragen, an arrogant snit of a man, who makes it his personal mission to destroy Georgia's reputation for unwittingly stealing his limelight and the attention of his entourage.
If you're looking for a romantic movie, an inspiring movie, a movie whose ultimate goal is to encourage you to step outside of your box and live life to the fullest before it ends, this is the movie for you.
Add appearances by Emeril Lagasse, Gerard Depardieu as the perfectionist chef who helps Georgia to realize one of her dreams & Giancarlo Esposito as a slick suitor attempting to snag, Georgia for himself, along with a host of great supporting actors and amazing scenery, to round out the film and you've got one feel good movie. I couldn't stand not having access to the film for frequent viewing, so I just had to finally purchase it and I am so glad that I did.
Last Holiday, is suitable for all ages; men, women and children & I highly recommend it.
10 Stars **********
I saw this movie after returning home from a week long vacation with my sisters. It was the last thing we did before we went back to work. Last Holiday made me want to book another ticket and hit the airways within 24 days. Without being too cheesy, it reminds you to live your best life now!
There is something soft and sweet about this funny little movie.
Queen Latifah's character is diagnosed with three (3) weeks to live, so she starts LIVING all her dreams without delay. There is no retirement to save for & no reason to be conservative any more. Oh, and she has a crush on LL Cool J's character (always a plus in my book).
My personal message from Last Holiday...TRAVEL MORE! Don't allow high school or college to be the best years of your life AND don't wait until you are seventy (70+) to see the World, get started now. --MsJTRAVEL 20OCT06
This remake of a 1950s Alec Guiness film, brings us a woman instead of a man who is diagnosed with a fatal illness and given only weeks to live.
Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifa) quits her job, liquidates her 401-K, and leaves New Orleans for a huge fling at a posh resort in the mountains of Europe that she'd read about in magazines. There she emerges from her dowdy appearance into a smashingly attractive, self-confident woman, determined to enjoy her last days to the hilt. And she does!
A cute film despite its predictability -- and Queen Latifah is so utterly charming and adorable it's hard to dislike.
Makes me want to see the original version now.