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Last Holiday - Review

Queen Latifah in Last Holiday

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Packing Light; Last Look; 23 Years In The Making; Deleted Scenes; Recipes From last Holiday; Theatrical Trailer.

QUEEN Latifah delivers a refreshingly low-key performance in Last Holiday but it’s not enough to save the film from the dreary slush-fest it eventually becomes.

Based on a 1950 film starring Alec Guinness that was written by the playwright JB Priestley, Wayne Wang’s remake is inoffensive yet lightweight material that squanders most of its potential.

It also continues Wang’s disappointing run of films, from wretched J-Lo rom-com Maid in Manhattan to forgettable kids’ flick, Because of Winn-Dixie.

Last Holiday finds Queen Latifah as Georgia Byrd, a department store cookware saleswoman who dreams of a better life without ever having the guts to pursue her ambitions or romantic interests.

When she is mistakenly told that she has only three weeks to live, she resolves to bow out in style by quitting her job and travelling to the plush Karlovy Vary skiing resort in the Czech Republic, where she hopes to realise some of her fantasies.

It’s not long before her larger than life spirit begins to have a profound effect on those she comes into contact with, from greedy entrepeneur Matthew Kragen (Timothy Hutton) and notoriously temperamental Chef Didier (Gerard Depardieu) to US Senator Dillings (Giancarlo Esposito) who has begun to lose sight of his constituents’ needs.

Wang’s film, while boasting some charming performances, suffers from a heavy-handed approach to its subject matter, a yawn-inducing predictability and a useless, uninvolving sub-plot concerning Hutton’s pantomime-style villain.

Hence, for every nice moment that the director delivers, there are plenty of terrible ones to follow.

The result is that much of the restrained work done by Queen Latifah is lost amid Wang’s desire to place her in unrealistic scenarios for comic effect (such as snowboarding down a mountain at the first attempt, or jumping off a Damn).

He also invests too much time in the bland business dealings of Hutton’s entrepreneur rather than allowing more time for Latifah to interact with the far more interesting likes of Depardieu’s chef, or the under-used LL Cool J and Alicia Witt.

Humour-wise, the film also feels clumsy, especially during the revelation of Latifah’s ailment (which is insensitively played) or while attempting to extract cheap laughs from situations like the hotel’s name (Pupp, as pronounced ‘poop’).

At an unnecessary 112 minutes, the film also feels way too long.

Put together, such failings make for an uninspiring package deal that fails to offer the sort of breezy cinema vacation that the filmmakers were no doubt hoping to achieve.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 1hr 52mins