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Movie Review

Georgia Byrd lives a meek, careful life, watching the world go by safely from the sidelines. She wears frumpy clothes, and even though she's an excellent cook, she serves her gourmet delights to friends while eating frozen entrées herself. Her life dreams never go farther than her "Book of Possibilities," a scrapbook of places she'd like to visit and people she'd like to get to know, including her co-worker Sean. (She has pasted photos of her face and his over magazine wedding photos.)

An accidental bump on the head leads her to the doctor's office, where a CAT scan reveals more than a knot on her skull; Georgia apparently suffers from a fatal brain disease, and the doctor gives her three weeks to live. Only then does Georgia realize that life is meant to be lived. She cashes out her bank account to take her dream vacation to the Grandhotel Pupp, a majestic ski resort in the heart of Old Europe frequented by movie stars and royalty. Georgia has long dreamed of sampling the dishes of the hotel's famous kitchen maestro, Chef Didier.

The people she "gets to know" while there--including, improbably, her own boss--gradually teach her to open up to life's possibilities and make them realities. In return, she provides them valuable lessons on generosity, humility and her new life motto: "It's not how you start; it's how you finish."

Positive Elements

Georgia is a generous, giving soul, always willing to forgive a slight and to give others the benefit of the doubt. She never returns an insult. She stresses personal integrity and the importance of keeping one's promises, a lesson several characters need to learn. Everyone, including the arrogant, greedy Matthew Kragen (her boss), seems better off for having known her.

Georgia comes to the defense of hotel employees who are being verbally abused by wealthy patrons. A hotel bellhop returns part of an overly generous tip given out of ignorance. A high-powered executive's mistress learns an important negative lesson when she realizes her affair with the boss is fooling no one: "I'm marked by this," she says with regret.

Sean is a goofy, good-hearted galoot whose intentions for Georgia are pure, and he's willing to walk the extra mile--or an extra dozen or so, uphill in the snow--to win her love.

Spiritual Content

Georgia sings in the church choir, and several scenes are set during exuberant church services. At one point the pastor prays for a politician, asking "the Good Lord to guide his hand." At Christmastime, a sign outside the church reads, "Jesus Is the Reason for the Season," and we see a billboard for the Knights of Columbus featuring a nativity scene.

Georgia says grace over her meal--it stands out in the posh European hotel--and periodically throughout the story she looks skyward and talks to God. At times she seemingly doubts His providence by asking, "You're playing with me, right?" and "You're not going to cut me any slack, are you?" Sean, who is afraid of flying, utters a loud "Thank you, God!" when his plane touches down.

Dr. Gupta seems to possess a hodgepodge of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, with one scene showing him meditating while chanting Om. A postscript at the end of the movie says he and Kragen moved to a New Agey ashram in India.

Sexual Content

It's clear Kragen, who is married, and Ms. Burns are having an affair. The two kiss passionately in an elevator until interrupted by other hotel guests. She encourages him to join her in a bubble bath--he's too busy thinking about business matters--but later when he hints at sex, she tells him to take a cold bath. Georgia makes a remark that implies the pair are having oral sex, but it's unclear whether Georgia realizes what she's actually said.

Georgia and a female co-worker admire Sean's rear end when he bends over to pick up something. The co-worker says Sean can grab her "booty" any time he wants. After a knock on the head, a delirious Georgia imagines Sean making a sexual come-on to her, unbuttoning his shirt and licking his lips (in soft focus) as the Marvin Gaye song "Let's Get It On" plays in the background. (To his credit, Sean is always a perfect gentleman around women.)

A few double entendres and a lesbian jape are joined by a lot of cleavage shown by Georgia and another character, who also shows a considerable amount of her bare back and side during a hotel massage. Gilded statues in the hotel lobby show bare breasts. Georgia states that her sister "slept around" a lot but that she hasn't. Georgia holds up a thong while shopping.

Violent Content

Mostly of the slapstick variety, played for laughs. Georgia smashes a man's annoying cell phone, threatening to "beat the crap out of him." She loses control during a snowboarding lesson and rockets down the slope, knocking over other skiers and crashing into a picnic table.

Played for laughs but not funny, a hotel manager fires a waiter (at the urging of a rich patron) by slapping him on the back of the head.

Crude or Profane Language

A teenage boy starts to mouth the f-word before Georgia cuts him off and rebukes him for using such language. The s-word is used about five times (once in French), and other crudities such as "d--n," "a---" and "h---" appear a few times. God's name is abused about 10 times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Several scenes of people having wine with meals or toasting with champagne. A forlorn man guzzles wine from a bottle while sitting on a high ledge, leading people to think he's about to kill himself. Georgia downs a mixed drink and is served champagne in her first-class plane section. We see bottles of booze behind the counter in a convenience store. A TV scene featuring Emeril Lagasse shows him joking about pouring extra wine into his dishes. A few background characters smoke cigarettes, and one lights up a huge cigar.

Other Negative Elements

Georgia is determined to spend every penny she has, so she goes to the hotel casino and makes risky bets at the roulette wheel--but wins every time, implying that God is behind her luck.


Last Holiday is a remake of a 1950 film starring Alec Guinness. It's a good-hearted movie with lots to say about seizing the day and using the gifts God has given you to help others. To be sure, it's selfish for Georgia to determine to blow every last penny on herself, but in actuality she is quite generous in sharing her bounty with those around her. Accustomed to being an underdog herself, she readily comes to the defense of the powerless and easily makes friends of enemies. It's also refreshing to see Sean court Georgia the old-fashioned way, without a hint of sexual lust involved. That's why it's especially disappointing that this Holiday gets rained on by gratuitous language and sexual situations.

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Queen Latifah as Georgia Byrd; LL Cool J as Sean Matthews; Timothy Hutton as Matthew Kragen; Giancarlo Esposito as Senator Dillings; Alicia Witt as Ms. Burns; Gérard Depardieu as Chef Didier; Emeril Lagasse makes a cameo appearance as Himself


Wayne Wang ( )


Paramount Pictures



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On Video

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Tom Neven

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