Last Holiday

(2006) * 1/2 Pg-13
112 min. Paramount Pictures. Director: Wayne Wang. Cast: Queen Latifah, Alicia Witt, LL Cool J, Giancarlo Esposito, Gerard Depardieu.

Queen Latifah takes the Alec Guinness role in a good-natured but clumsy remake of the 1950 Alec Guinness comedy Last Holiday. Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman's script—adapted from J.B. Priestly's original—follows a shy and unassuming woman on her journey to self-determination after a fatal diagnosis.

Latifah's Georgia Byrd decides to deprive herself no longer and jets off to the eye-catching Czech resort village of Karlovy Vary. At the opulent Grandpupp Hotel, Georgia's every fantasy is fulfilled: dressing down her corporate boss, living it up with senators and congressmen, eating like a queen, and finding true love. By spreading joie de vivre like so much pâté, Georgia also makes unlikely new friends: her boss' pampered girlfriend (Alicia Witt) and world-famous Chef Didier (Gerard Depardieu).

Latifah gives her most nuanced screen performance (though that's not saying much), and LL Cool J and Depardieu strike the right tone as Georgia's admirers. But director Wayne Wang sinks to a career low by accepting the most obvious plot developments and encouraging over-the-top mugging from supporting players including Timothy Hutton's CEO ("Nobody makes me do a face plant!), Ranjit Chowdhry's Dr. Gupta, and Susan Kellerman's German-sourpuss chambermaid Ms. Gunther ("Ja, I know I'm a bitch...").

Don't count on Last Holiday having the courage of its convictions, despite periodic attempts to warm the heart. "Next time we'll do things different," says Georgia. "We just won't be so afraid." A noble sentiment, but a better way to seize the day would be to do something other than sitting through the sitcomedic Last Holiday.

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Aspect ratios: 2.35:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Street date: 12/30/2008

Distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment

Like its locations, the transfer for Last Holiday on Blu-ray is a beaut: particularly stunning in its ability to bring depth to the outdoor photography. Clean and sharp, the image is matched by a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack that is a definitive home presentation of the film's sound mix, more than up to the task of supporting the comedy's dialogue, music, and effects.

Paramount also ports over all of the DVD extras. A standard collection of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews, "Last Holiday: Packing Light" (15:24, SD) features director Wayne Wang, Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Timothy Hutton, Alicia Witt, and producers Laurence Mark and Jack Rapke.

"Last Holiday: Last Look" (7:45, SD) focuses on design and locations with Wang, production designer William Arnold and DP Geoffrey Simpson.

The most interesting featurette is "Last Holiday: 23 Years in the Making" (7:12, SD), which traces the long journey back to the screen for this remake property. Screenwriters Jeffrey Price and Peter Seaman describe the protracted process of getting their labor-of-love script made (including an aborted version with John Candy attached); producers Mark and Rapke also add comments.

Rounding out the disc are 2 "Deleted Scenes" (2:19, SD) and a "Theatrical Trailer" (2:30, HD).

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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