Movie Reviews

Last Holiday (5/2/2006)

Rated PG-13 for some sexual reference.

Directed by Wayne Wang (Because of Winn-Dixie, Maid in Manhattan…)

Starring Queen Latifah, Timothy Hutton, Gerard Depardieu, LL Cool J…


Does anyone use that word any more? Well, if you don’t, then look it up. Webster’s defines the word: giving great pleasure and joy, especially by being pleasant, good to look at, or amusing. That would definitely describe Last Holiday. The film was a lot of fun, a great date flick!

At first I was surprised to see Queen Latifah playing the role of Miss Georgia Byrd, a shy, church-going woman who is diagnosed with a terminal illness. This isn’t a normal role for Latifah. She’s quiet, she wears very little make up, and never curses— almost the polar opposite of her role in Bringing Down the House. But don’t let that scare you away (if you’re like me, you might have even liked her in Bringing Down the House)—she’s still incredible. And her character really develops, becoming bolder and more spontaneous as the story progresses.

Don’t worry; the tagline isn’t spoiling the film. Early in the story Georgia finds out that she has a terminal disease. Most of the film is about how her life changes with this realization. With nothing to lose she decides to take a European vacation, learning a lot about life… just a little too late.

Sound like a tear jerker?

Don’t worry, this is no Dying Young. I’m not saying you won’t shed a tear or two, but the film is definitely a fun “fairy tale” of sorts.

Timothy Hutton plays a terrific role as the greedy, evil CEO who is threatened by the very presence of Georgia from the moment he meets her. Best I’ve seen him since Beautiful Girls.

And LL Cool J plays one of his best roles yet (save Deep Blue Sea).

Cooking fans will love the movie as well. Gerard Depardieu does a phenomenal job as the famous Chef Didier. The film has some great cooking moments, including a cameo from Emeril.

This film might be a great discussion piece with kids or youth groups. Georgia is not only a clean, church-going woman, we also see her reading her Bible and praying. She never talks bad about anyone, lies or cheats. (although she does drop a cuss word or two when she was really pushed.) She’s moral, spiritual and … likeable!!! (Is this film really from Hollywood?)

When Georgia finds out about her disease, she doesn’t take it lightly. She prays and asks God why? She wrestles with God over why he would do such a thing. And as it turns out, God knew what He was doing. (Imagine that!)

I have to say that I am surprised that this film got a PG-13. This is one of the cleaner PG-13 films I have seen in the last few years. The film has a few cuss words, a few scenes where characters joke about someones “boodie”, a dream sequence where two people lick their lips passionately, and one scene where Georgia confronts a girl about her sexual behavior and some graphic analogies are used in the exchange. A few young kids were sitting near me in the theatre and most of the scene went over their heads.

But I can’t help but wonder if the film makers threw in that dialogue to get the PG-13 rating. I wonder if they wanted the rating to draw out the same audience that is flocking to the Dukes of Hazard, Wedding Crashers, The 40 Year Old Virgin, etc. A penny for their thoughts.

Aside from the quick scenes mentioned above, there is nothing objectionable in the entire film. And the theme of the film is very positive. I’d show this film to my kids in a heartbeat.

Conversation Starter
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):

  1. What are some of the messages or themes you observed in this movie?
  2. How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this movie?
  3. How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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