Last Holiday

on January 13, 2006 by Christine James
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First off, any movie that has hunky LL Cool J fall in love with the Plain Jane protagonist before her Gorgeous Georgia makeover is already several million points out of 10 ahead of the game with its target audience (women ages 15-95). Secondly, thirdly and fourthly, "Last Holiday" is warm, funny and inspiring. Add it all up and you've got anything but the usual throwaway dumbed-down rom-com, despite the January release date stigma.

True, "Last Holiday" inhabits a world where synchronicities are rampant, everyone acts just like you hope they would when given half a chance, and punishment-fits-the-crime comeuppances are meted to those few who are truly irredeemable. But you wouldn't want anything else in a feel-good tale about a woman whose devastating diagnosis inspires her to truly start living.

Queen Latifah plays Georgia Byrd, a sweet but mousy department store sales clerk who is kind and generous to everyone but herself. She distantly hopes that good things -- like connecting with her co-worker Sean (LL Cool J) and meeting her favorite gourmet chefs -- might happen for her "someday." But when a medical test turns up a fatal condition, Georgia resolves to make someday today. She liquidates her savings bonds and jets off to a five-star resort in Czechoslovakia to live large and meet her hero, Chef Didier (Gerard Depardieu). Her grand entrance via helicopter, free-spending ways and adventurous streak cause a wave of speculation that she's an eccentric billionaire, while her joie de vivre and newfound frankness win the admiration and devotion of everyone she meets. Except for the greedy villains of the piece, who try to thwart her, only to find fate thwacking them in the face at every turn.

Admirably avoiding the burlesque fish-out-of-water/makeover movie one might fear, "Last Holiday" is as joyful and winsome as Georgia turns out to be. Starring Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Gerard Depardieu, Timothy Hutton and Alicia Witt. Directed by Wayne Wang. Written by Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman. Produced by Laurence Mark and Jack Rapke. A Paramount release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for some sexual references. Running time: 109 min

Tags: Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Gerard Depardieu, Timothy Hutton and Alicia Witt. Directed by Wayne Wang. Written by Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman. Produced by Laurence Mark and Jack Rapke. A Paramount release. Comedy, chefs, hilicopter, billionaire, frankness, admiration, tale, diagnosis
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