Last Holiday (2006)

Directed by Wayne Wang

Let’s cut to the chase: this is essentially a cookie-cutter movie. It’s well-made in that it has aslick appearance, but overall it’s pretty average, except …

Well, it has Queen Latifah and she gives a great performance. In fact, as well-made as the movie is it would be largely forgettable because it is such a template-based film, but for Latifah.

Last Holiday is the story of a woman, Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah), who is told by her doctors that she is going to die. She has just a short time left to live. The news forces her to reflect on her life and she realizes she’s been waiting throughout it for the time to actually live. With the prospect of death in front of her, she decides that now, dying, she must go out and live or the chance will forever pass her by.

She does. In the process, she changes both herself and those around her. To tell more would be to give the story away, although it’s such a cookie-cutter plot it shouldn’t be hard to figure out how it ends.

Fortunately, how it all plays out is irrelevant because what is rewarding in the film is Latifah (and a few of the supporting characters, such as Gerard Depardieu as Chef Didier, a man who cherishes and shares Georgia’s appreciation of life).

The movie begins with a very subdued, unassertive Georgia (and it may be hard to imagine Latifah playing that until you see it). As the movie progresses, she evolves into a vibrant, exuberant woman in love with being alive  – a lot closer to how we see the real Latifah.

By and large, Last Holiday is a fun, enjoyable movie, though far from what could be called great. It’s the usual Hollywood fare but rises a little above what it essentially is, standard Hollywood product, thanks to Queen Latifah’s vibrant performance. She comes across as fun and warm, the sort of person you’d love to spend time with. This movie gives you that chance.

2½  stars out of 4.

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