- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Paramount Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
ueen Latifah opened more than a few eyes with her performance in the award-winning musical “Chicago,” but follow-up roles in films like “Taxi” and “Bringing Down the House” have not exactly launched the former hip-hop artist into the Hollywood elite. A recent Wal-Mart commercial finds the Queen forcing a female customer into buying a copy of “Beauty Shop” on DVD, and one can only imagine she’ll be doing the same once “Last Holiday” is shooed out of theaters. Based on the 1950 film of the same name, “Last Holiday” is as about funny as the last “Saw” movie. And for those who are keeping track, horror movies aren’t usually very funny.
Once-promising director Wayne Wang (“Joy Luck Club”) has taken a “Guess Who” approach to the story by switching both the sex and race of the lead character, possibly because he believes that it lends a modern day edge to the story. Latifah stars as Georgia Byrd, a single woman from New Orleans with big dreams, but no courage to chase them. When she’s not selling cookware or ogling co-worker Sean (LL Cool J), Georgia spends her spare time preparing meals like a master chef. When a random doctor’s visit results in the diagnosis of a rare form of cancer, however, Georgia is given only three weeks to live. Deciding she would rather go out in style than sulk at home alone, Georgia cashes in her IRA and makes the trip to a grand resort in the Czech Republic featuring the famous Chef Didier (Gerard Depardieu).
Two hip-hop stars do not make a right, so while the casting of both Latifah and LL Cool J may seem like inspired choices, it backfires with a double dose of bad acting. It’s hardly fair to blame the actors for everything, since a better script would have certainly made it easier on everyone, but this project was doomed from the beginning. The screenplay is atrocious, filled to the brim with set pieces that make absolutely no sense, including a scene where snowboarding novice Georgia manages to cruise down a black diamond mountain course, and another that finds her dealing with the bad news by breaking into song in the middle of church.
And Hollywood wonders why the box office is suffering. Supporting performances by Timothy Hutton and Gerard Depardieu make the film even less appealing, if that’s possible; especially Depardieu, who’s meant to be comic relief strictly because he’s the stereotypical foreign guy. No one can understand what he’s saying, and so it’s funny. Not quite, but thank God for Alicia Witt, who manages to shine amidst all the mediocrity. “Last Holiday” was rightfully dropped in the dead zone of January, but that doesn’t mean that some people won’t enjoy it. Urban audiences that eat up everything Latifah does will surely be amused, but that doesn’t change the fact that this hip-hop star-turned-actress has probably buried her career with this one.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
Like most hi-def releases coming out of Paramount’s vaults these days, “Last Holiday” doesn’t feature any Blu-ray exclusive material. Worse yet is that the special features that do appear are as bad as the movie itself. The production featurettes are shallow, the deleted scenes unnecessary, and a short discussion with the film’s producer and co-writers on why it took 23 years to make is a joke. You want to know it took so long to have the movie greenlit? Here’s a big clue: it sucked.