Without Queen Latifah, Last Holiday would have been a somewhat tedious vacation, despite its beautiful setting.
Things really start to happen for Georgia (Queen Latifah), a shy sales clerk and amateur chef, when she finds out she only has three weeks to live. The guy she's been secretly admiring (LL Cool J) suddenly asks her out, she quits her job even after her overbearing boss offers her more money to stay and she spends all her savings to travel to a grand European resort, staying in the presidential suite. Once she's checked in, the mucky mucks in the hotel mistake her for someone important (and dammit, she is!) The resort's master chef (Gerard Depardieu) loves that she likes to eat and takes her under his wing--and she teaches him a few things. She base-jumps off a dam, wins $100,000 betting on the same roulette number three times--and basically captures the hearts of everyone she meets. If only she weren't about to die oh come on, it's a comedy, for crying out loud. You know nothing really bad is going to happen.
Incorporating a very tired plot device, Last Holiday revolves around a character who changes the lives of those around them just by being themselves. We've seen it countless times before, but at least the carefree, fun-lovin' Queen Latifah sells it as best she can. The actress just has an effortless style which she infuses into everything she does--whether the film measures up or not. As Georgia, the actress shifts from dowdy to ghetto fabulous with great ease and believability. Everyone else in the film, however, are cardboard cut-outs, including LL Cool J as the would-be suitor, Timothy Hutton as a snobby mogul trying to ferret out Georgia's flaws and Alicia Witt as his beleaguered mistress. And no one is quite sure what Gerard Depardieu is doing in the film, except to say his lines unintelligibly.
Director Wayne Wang has definitely made a name for himself in the sentimental department, having helmed such sappy fare as The Joy Luck Club, Maid in Manhattan and Because of Winn-Dixie. Last Holiday fits right in on his resume, without offering anything new or exciting. The film has a few redeeming qualities, however. Shot in Austria and the Czech Republic, there is plenty of beauty and old-world charm to get into the mood to take a big trip--if you had a million to spare, that is. And if you are into the Food Network, you'll get a more than few helpful hints on how to prepare a five-course meal. Just don't go see this movie if you're hungry (I did and it was torture).
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.