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It's advice to follow for shy New Orleans cookware salesclerk Georgia Byrd (Oscar® nominee Queen Latifah) when she's led the believe that she has less than a month to live. It's time to give her life a serious makeover, so Georgia jets off on a dream vacation to live like there's no tomorrow! Enjoy hearty laughs and rollicking comedic misadventures when Georgia shakes up a glamorous European resort spa while enthusiastically embracing a new look...new moves...and a new attitude! LL Cool J is the handsome suitor back home who's not about to let Georgia slip away. Timothy Hutton, Gerard Depardieu, Alicia Witt and Giancarlo Esposito also star in this comedy hit that makes the good times last forever.
For more about Last Holiday and the Last Holiday Blu-ray release, see Last Holiday Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 8, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Timothy Hutton, Giancarlo Esposito, Alicia Witt
Director: Wayne Wang
» See full cast & crew
Last Holiday Blu-ray Review
'Last Holiday' is a comedy with a big heart.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 8, 2009
You wait and wait for something big to happen, and then you find out you're going to die.
Last Holiday represents the epitome of the feel-good, escapist genre. Though the movie is certainly far from groundbreaking or even all that unique, it rarely, if ever, feels stale or clichéd. The uplifting spirit, never-say-die attitude, and message on the importance of belief and confidence in oneself on display will leave all but the most stoic and hard-hearted of viewers with a smile on their faces (and maybe a tear in their eyes), if not wholly invigorated and encouraged to restore faith in and perhaps even live their dreams. If the movie has a glaring weakness, it is in the predictability of the story arc, but a film like Last Holiday may be forgiven of this, for it is definitely the journey, not the finer details of the plot, that set it apart and make it a fine feel-good, "anytime" sort of movie. This is the kind of entertainment that never goes out of style; the message remains an important one, the laughs and mini-adventures always infectiously entertaining, and the drama always moving and true.
Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah, Chicago) is a single woman with plenty of dreams. She loves to cook, a passion she often shares with her customers at her job in the cookware section of Kragen Department Stores, though she only eats microwaveable health food herself. She is also attracted to one of her co-workers, the handsome and affable Sean Matthews (LL Cool J, S.W.A.T.). When She and Sean are about to set a date, Georgia accidentally bumps her head and a routine medical examination reveals a rare virus spreading through her cranium, and the diagnosis is dire: she has but three weeks to live. Unable to afford the proper treatment, Georgia takes her funds from the bank and plans an overseas trip to live her final days in luxury at the Grandhotel Pupp in the Czech Republic, where she not only meets one of her cooking idols, Chef Didier (Gérard Depardieu, Babylon A.D.), but also several other people with whom she becomes close, including the me-first owner of the department store where she works and a U.S. Senator who bailed on an appearance at her church in favor of a luxury vacation at the hotel. Will these guests ruin Georgia's last days, or will she continue to realize her dreams, perhaps even making a name for herself and turing a few other lives around in the process?
Last Holiday is simply a charming little movie that is snug and warm, as comfortable as an old pair of shoes and as inviting as a favorite blanket on a cold New Year's Eve day. Last Holiday, much like the Holiday season it is set in, is about throwing away the old and ushering in the new, a movie about reinvigoration, determination, compassion, love, respect, and strength of character. It's about living for today with the promise of tomorrow, embracing each moment and never falling into routine, depression, decay, or regret. Whether five minutes or fifty years, every moment, lived right, may be an eternity. A smile, a word, a look, can last forever, and Last Holiday embraces just that idea. The movie is based around Queen Latifah's character's "book of possibilities," and turning as many of them into realities as she can during the final three weeks of her life. What is so remarkable about the story is how each side character is affected by the infectious charisma and love for life Queen Latifah's character displays. Each and every one undergoes some sort of metamorphosis, whether it is the hotel receptionist who gains a new appreciation for the beauty of her surroundings or the department store mogul who learns that life is not all about power and wealth. While the film clearly takes advantage of movie magic by surrounding Georgia with characters that are both, in one form or another, loosely connected to her (the owner of the store she works at, a politician who failed to appear as a speaker at her church) and in need of her guidance, the movie's charm, warmth, and passion for life as conveyed through its story and characters make the convenience of the story a forgivable flaw.
Last Holiday is a character-driven film, and none, from the top down, disappoint. Even tertiary characters, like a hotel masseuse or Georgia's doctor, perform admirably and memorably, making real people out of important but not lead characters. Clearly, the film benefits greatly from a fine ensemble cast, one that boasts of name-actors but none so instantly recognizable, typecast, or out-of-place so as to detract from the story. Certainly, Queen Latifah plays her character with both honesty and integrity. Though her character is never quite truthful with her new friends (and enemies), she is never dishonest about who she really is with any sort of devious or otherwise harmful intentions. The character understandably plays to her newfound mysterious and magnetic persona, going for a ride that even she never expected while living the life of unparalleled luxury. LL Cool J is also a standout performer as the love interest, portraying an "everyman" nicely, understanding the role and getting the most out of it. Perhaps the finest actor, and the finest character, in the film is Gérard Depardieu's Chef Didier, who immediately takes a liking to Georgia, not only because she is clearly an admirer of fine food and his work, but because of her strong, friendly personality that shines even through the expensive clothes and otherwise snobbish atmosphere the restaurant generally sees, reinforced by characters like the "me first" Matthew Kragen, played forcibly well by Timothy Hutton. Depardieu delivers an honest, unique character that continually reinforces all of the good things about Georgia's character and therefore the themes of the film.
Last Holiday Blu-ray, Video Quality
Last Holiday travels to Blu-ray with a mostly pleasant 1080p, 2.35:1-framed transfer. The video transfer is extremely film-like, aided by a generally subtle but sometimes more noticeable layer of grain, and the transfer oftentimes borders very closely to reference-grade quality. The colors exhibit just a bit of over-saturation, but most appear lifelike and very pleasing to the eye, with just a slight push towards red. Detail is generally superb. Streets feature palpable texture and depth in the concrete, clothing reveals all stitches and nuances in close-up shots, and faces also exhibit the finest of details. A tan colored sweater Georgia wears the first time audiences see her at work shows off all the weaves and lines with excellent results. Like the image as a whole, flesh tones veer towards a reddish-pink hue. However, blacks are nice and deep. On the down side, backgrounds appear ever so soft, and there is the occasional white speckle over the print. While not a perfect transfer, this Blu-ray edition of Last Holiday boasts a very respectable image that should please fans, and serves as the best technical aspect of the disc.
Last Holiday Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Last Holiday features a rather unremarkable Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The soundtrack never features anything in the way of a full, immersive sound field. The movie's opening choir practice session shows just that, the sound playing somewhat nicely if not a bit underwhelming from the front but offering virtually nothing from the back channels. Likewise, the remainder of the track retains a front-heavy, almost lifeless sound, playing cold and detached, certainly not matching the warmth of the story. A shopping montage in chapter seven features a pop song that plays out as flat and dull, which unfortunately is the order of the day when it comes to this disc. The movie is primarily dialogue-driven, and this aspect of the disc is flawless, with no discernible hiccups to hinder the presentation. On the whole, this soundtrack is alright, but never all that impressive.
Last Holiday Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Last Holiday checks in on Blu-ray with precious few extras. 'Last Holiday:' Packing Light (480p, 15:24) is a rather generic making-of piece that features the expected cast and crew interview snippets and behind-the-scenes footage intercut with scenes from the film. The piece examines the background of the script and focuses on the role of each character in the film, and concludes by looking at the themes of the film. 'Last Holiday:' Last Look (480p, 7:45) looks at the various locales as seen in the film and the vision and artistic choices that went into making each one a character in the film. 'Last Holiday:' 23 Years in the Making (480p, 7:12) examines the lengthy history of the project. Concluding this brief supplemental package are two deleted scenes (480p, 2:19) and the film's theatrical trailer (1080p, 2:32).
Last Holiday Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Last Holiday is fine, friendly, pleasing, and moving storytelling that conveys a simple tale of how one person, determined to live life the way she always wanted to, armed only with a warm personality and love for life, can influence and inspire so many others. The movie works on a number of levels, from the honest performances to the simplicity of the story and its message, but it is in its tender soul and gentle nudging of the heartstrings that make it a worthwhile watch, particularly during troubled times. Paramount's Blu-ray release of this easygoing film isn't one to become too excited about from a technical perspective, but the disc is more than adequate for what the film requires. The disc features a warm, inviting picture quality that stands among some of the better transfers on the market, a slightly disappointing but sufficient lossless soundtrack, and only a few bonus materials. Nevertheless, the movie is what matters at the end of the day, and Last Holiday is definitely a good one. For what is arguably the perfect blend of entertainment and meaning, Last Holiday is hard to beat. Easily recommended.
Last Holiday: Other Editions
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