Reviewed by: Rosemarie Ute Hoffman
|Featuring:||Queen Latifah, Alicia Witt, LL Cool J, Giancarlo Esposito, Gérard Depardieu|
|Producer:||Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey, Richard Vane|
|Distributor:||Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures|
“She always thought she was somebody… and she was.”
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah) lives a small life tucked inside big dreams. A shy cookware salesperson for a New Orleans retail outlet, she handles knives and skillets with the flair of a master chef. But when Georgia learns her days are numbered, she throws caution to the wind and embarks on a dream holiday vacation to a grand resort in Europe. There, thinking she has nothing to lose, Georgia undergoes a metamorphosis… and her transformation affects everyone around her. From snowy slopes to spectacular spas, delectable dinners to midnight balls, Georgia is going to live a lifetime of fun in just a few weeks.”
“Last Holiday” is an awakening of sorts that pulls at the heartstrings. Queen Latifah, who portrays Ms. Georgia Byrd, reminds us that life is to be lived to its fullest—and sometimes as though we are dying. Her character is a quiet and demure do-gooder who works for a retail department store, and who dreams of possibilities.
Although she has big dreams, her fears keep her from fulfilling them until she is diagnosed with a fatal disease. Georgia is a no-frills woman who finds it difficult to muster up the courage to share her feelings with her love interest Sean Matthews (LL Cool J). Sean and Georgia’s secret love for one another is nothing more than a dance, whereby unwanted purchases and run-ins at the department store are the usual. It is not until the very end when Sean travels halfway around the world to get his queen that they finally connect romantically.
The most encouraging theme throughout this film is the on-going dialogue of Georgia with God. After her world turns upside down with news of her sudden illness, she questions God repeatedly, “Lord, why me?” During a Sunday service as a choir member, Georgia questions God again aloud during a lull. She is finally motivated to not only use her full voice, but steps out in front of the congregation and down the pews in a gospel flair with a few questions that include, “Come on Lord, why? I followed your commandments. Why, Lord!”
In a desperate attempt to understand her destiny, she cries over a bottle of wine, while she asks herself why she did not pursue those things she dreamed of. After having an epiphany about her life not yet being over, she books a trip to a destination where there are healing waters—Karlovy Vary—in the Czech Republic.
She arrives at the Grand Hotel Pupp, a complex of buildings first erected by the order of the then Lord Mayor Deiml in 1701. With its large-scale columns, crystal chandeliers and gilded cherubim that adorn the lobby ceiling it is enough to bring anyone to tears. And, Georgia with her new appetite for life is eager to share in the beauty of her surroundings.
Trying to live out the best of her last few weeks at this fantasy getaway, Georgia meets up with the most unlikely characters. Senator Dillings (Giancarlo Esposito) from her home state of Louisiana is there, who just happened to pull a no-show the Sunday before at her church. The senator has an obvious for sale sign on his forehead when he is found in the company of Matthew Kragen (Timothy Hutton) author of a get rich book, and owner of Kragen stores. Matthew’s obnoxious attitude towards life and people has him in competition, while the rest of his intimate group are being captivated by Georgia’s new found freedom in living, loving, laughing, and letting loose.
Georgia strikes up a surprise friendship with Chef Didier (Grard Depardieu) of the Grand Hotel Pupp. They discover they both share a passion for food and during this unexpected dish of friendship, Chef Didier shares with Georgia the secret of life while using a turnip analogy—an undesirable vegetable that gets better—“It’s not how you start, but how you finish!”
The movie does allow an offhanded remark with reference to Ms. Burns (Alicia Witt) the mistress of Matthew Kragen “going down” on him. Unfortunately, there are numerous expressions of expletives, which are strewn throughout, but not exaggerated to the point that it subtracts from the inspiring story line. Still, parents/caregivers please consider that serious illnesses and dying are sensitive topics for young children, and some preteens.
During what should be her last weeks of life, Georgia discovers a few truths that many never realize in their senior years. In a poignant scene, where she talks to herself in a mirror she professes, “You’re so lucky. You didn’t get everything you wanted. I should have laughed and loved more. I should have seen the world.”
Her candor does not stop there. She sheds further light on life’s secret during a dinner party where she tells her new friends that, “The things we care about are pretty worthless.” A future without God is worthless, regardless of our allotted time here on Earth. What makes a fulfilled life is not about acquiring or doing things, but should be a life driven by God’s purposes along with being free to love and laugh, with courage and a full voice! We should be more concerned with our relationship with Christ than fulfilling a to-do list before our eternity begins.
2 Timothy 1:7-10—“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
Violence: None / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.