Anytime I go and see a Queen Latifah film I want to yell, "All hail the Queen", when I leave the theatre; but I rarely find myself being able to. There are not many more likeable actors than Queen Latifah and she has made a career out of playing working class women who are wise and always have those snappy one liners to say whenever the need arises. I just want her to play a different character. I want her to show some acting flexibility. I want her to play more diverse roles, like the one she did in 'Chicago'. She always seems to fall back on the 'safe' type roles and I for one am done with it.
There is nothing offensive (other than a few stereotypes) or painful about 'Last Holiday' (a remake of the 1950s version starring Alec Guiness); it's just that we have seen it all before from Queen Latifah. I guess she felt she was doing something different because she starts off the film as a timid, romantically inhibited working class single woman and only becomes a confident, wise fountain of advice for everyone no matter the problem woman 30 minutes into the film.
What did surprise me was the role that LL Cool J played. As opposed to his usual smooth talker or tough guy, LL Cool J played a part that was the male version of Queen Latifah's (shy and hesitant). Director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club, Because of Winn-Dixie) is quite experienced at films involving a working class woman being mistaken for a rich and powerful woman (see 'Maid In Manhattan'), but I find it disappointing that the same innovative director that brought us 'The Centre of the Universe' and 'The Joy Luck Club' is now bringing us this type of mindless comedy. There are some genuinely funny moments in 'Last Holiday', but how many times are film viewers supposed to pay to see the same film?
Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah – Chicago, Jungle Fever) is a reserved single woman who works hard at her job in the houseware section of a Kragen's department store and clips coupons to save money. All the while she creates her 'possibilities' book (a book containing the rich foods she has cooked, lavish vacations she'd like to go on, world-renowned chefs she'd like to meet, etc.) instead of living the life she wants to. For example, even though she is an excellent cook and loves to cook; she never eats her own food because she is watching her weight. She is liked by everyone, but noticed by no one.
Georgia really likes co-worker Sean Matthews (LL Cool J – Any Given Sunday, Charlie's Angels), but is too shy to approach him. After bumping her head one day at work she undergoes a catscan and is told by Dr. Gupta (Ranjit Chowdhry – It Could Happen To You, Autumn in New York) that she has a rare disease and has roughly 3 weeks to live. Upset because she is dying, feels she has lived a good life and is being tested by God, Georgia cashes in all her money and decides to go to Prague to see where Chef Didier (Gerard Depardieu – 102 Dalmatians, The Man in the Iron Mask) – who is one of her favourite chefs – works. Georgia flies first class to Prague, stays in the presidential suite at Hotel Pupp, and starts hobnobbing with the likes of Congressman Stewart (Michael Nouri – Flashdance, Victor/Victoria) and Senator Dillings (Giancarlo Esposito – Taps, The Cotton Club). The only person who is suspicious of Georgia is Matthew Kragen (Timothy Hutton – Ordinary People, The Falcon and the Snowman) – the young rich owner of Kragen's department stores. Georgia tries to live life to the fullest with the time she has left.
-23 Years on the Making