Artist: Movie ReviewTitle: Last Holiday (Film)Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Edwardo Jackson
BIASES: 30 year old black male; frustrated screenwriter who favors action, comedy, and glossy, big budget movies over indie flicks, kiddie flicks, and weepy Merchant Ivory fare
Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah) is dying. Diagnosed with three, maybe four weeks to live around the Christmas season, the meticulous, coupon clipping, play-it-safe New Orleans resident quits her job and cashes in her life savings to ride out her last days at a swanky European resort with alleged healing properties. While there, her carpe diem attitude attracts the attention of the nosy hotel staff, an intrigued New Orleans Senator Dillings (Giancarlo Esposito), and the suspicious, snooty, super-competitive CEO of the department store chain for which she had worked, Matthew Kragen (Timothy Hutton). While she's off gallivanting the slopes in Europe, her love interest back home, Sean (LL Cool J) starts missing Georgia and comes looking for her.
Despite being a faux-heartwarming exercise in mediocrity, Holiday (Paramount Pictures) could have been far worse. Instead of being a hoodrat in luxury (could you imagine the Soul Plane producers getting their hands on it?), this movie is more like an American in Europe, a high concept remake of 1950's "Last Holiday" starring Sir Alec Guinness as George Bird. Wayne Wang, the lighthearted schlockmeister of the abysmally chemistry-free "Maid in Manhattan," plays it right down the middle. Light on laughs yet earnest in intent, "Holiday," in all it's snowboarding, base jumping, gourmet food orgying glory, is cheesy, predictable, harmless yet surprisingly feelgood.
That's mostly due to our Queen. Latifah, with an easygoing, sincere performance, charms with her high cheekbones and winky, beatific smile. Never mind her recent appearance "Inside the Actor's Studio" a movie like this validates Queen Latifah not as a rapper turned actor but as a bona fide movie star. Even her sweet, awkward chemistry with LL, the object of her unspoken affection, shows a growth, maturity, and overall likeability that behooves a movie star who needs better material. It's not a bad movie or an unwise career move, either. It's just time better spent polishing her crown on movies worthy of royalty.
Edwardo Jackson (ReelReviewz@aol.com) is an author and LA-based screenwriter, visit his website at www.edwardojackson.com.