Last Holiday

With Last Holiday, the general public will finally realize what some people have known for a few years - Queen Latifah is a great actor. She is very natural on screen, and has a charismatic, highly likeable persona. Latifah started in rap, then took small roles in movies before moving to television with Living Single. After the show ended, she began working in films more. Brown Sugar was the first glimpse of how good she good she could be. Chicago was even better. Now, it's a shame that her best performance comes from such a mediocre movie. Last Holiday is a wish fulfillment movie that typically stars a teenage pop star. She gets to experience the high life, and typically there's a scene where the star tries on a bunch of outfits in front of a camera.

Last Holiday is based on the 1950 film starring Alec Guinness. This time, department store employee Georgia Bird (Latifah, Beauty Shop, Taxi) discovers she has only a few weeks left to live because of a rare disease. She quits her job, cashes in all of her accounts, and goes to Eastern Europe to a last vacation at a posh resort. Bird intrigues everybody, since she spends money freely and nobody has any clue who she is. Before, she was shy and afraid to do things. Now, Bird realizes that she should make the most of her time. She base jumps, snowboards, eats fancy food, and speaks her mind freely to American government officials and corporate executives. This pisses off a few people, but her openness, honestly, and friendliness make her more friends than enemies.

Overall, it's a pretty silly story. Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Wild Wild West) handle the adaptation, while Wayne Wang (Because of Winn-Dixie, Maid in Manhattan) directs. It is predictable, simplistic, cheesy, and has flat characters. Wang has not done much of note lately, and his direction here doesn't point to anything different. Last Holiday is a forgettable film, going through all the same paces at its younger forbears (stuff like The Princess Diaries or What a Girl Wants). And all of this just proves how forceful Latifah's personality is. She manages to make the mundane look fun.

Unlike the other films, this one is much more poignant. Hanging over everything else is the fact that Bird will die soon. Still, the story skips over most of this, because Bird is living life to the fullest. When the story does take notice of her condition, it doesn't come across as too worrisome. Again, this is due primarily to Latifah's performance. It also helps that her romantic foil is LL Cool J (Mindhunters, S.W.A.T.). He's another rapper-turned actor that people tend to underestimate because of his tremendous physique. While he is extremely effective in action movies, people do not realize that he can also do the leading-man type roles. Those people need to see Kingdom Come or Deliver Us From Eva, two smaller films that escaped the notice of most people.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 52 minutes, Rated PG-13 for some sexual references.

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