I have to admit that I am unabashedly, a huge Queen Latifah fan – and have been – since she began her career as a young rapper in New York City in the early 1990s. My personal feelings aside, I must say that it has been a refreshing ride to see Latifah’s transition from one of the early pioneers of female rap, to legitimate Hollywood celebrity – and more recently – acclaimed actress.
Her latest acting venture, Last Holiday, is a film that features Latifah as an overly reserved woman named Georgia Byrd who dreams of a stylish existence filled with fancy food, fashionable clothing, and high-society parties, but in reality, lives the most ordinary of lives – until she is diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor – and given three weeks to live.
Although Byrd spends the majority of her evenings alone eating frozen dinners and thinking about a shy coworker (played by another rapper turned actor, L.L. Cool J) that she has a crush on, once she is diagnosed with her terminal illness, she collects her life’s savings and decides to go on a globetrotting whirlwind to fulfill all of her dreams.
Now, although Last Holiday certainly isn’t going to win anyone involved any kind of major theatrical award, it is without a doubt, a more-than-respectable, feel-good, family flick that holds its own, with Latifah leading the way.
Speaking of the Queen, I must also say that it has been a pleasure to witness her growth as an actress. From her early works in productions like the long running television show Living Single and the almost iconic film, Set It Off, to her more recent ventures in films like Bringing Down The House, Taxi and now, Last Holiday, Latifah’s on screen growth has been nothing short of amazing.
Okay, enough with my schoolboy crush on Latifah and back to the reason I began this article in the first place.
After receiving her diagnosis, Latifah heads for one of the world’s ritziest hotels, the Grand Hotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic, where she indulges herself with every luxury she can imagine, while simultaneously shaking up the respective world’s of several unsuspecting bigwigs including the corporate owner of the store she works for and her local senator.
Now, I can genuinely say that this film runs viewers through a gamut of emotions. Latifah’s downhill skiing scene with her corporate boss (Timothy Hutton) was absolutely sidesplitting not to mention her skydiving performance off of a nearby dam and spa treatment when she has to put one young lady in her place by telling her exactly why her neck was hurting. Byrd (Latifah) also makes fast friends ad becomes a beloved figure with gourmet chef (Gerard Depardieu) and every other employee of the lavish hotel where she is staying.
Now, although there is almost no on-screen romance between Latifah and L.L. in a film that is pretty much a romantic comedy, Latifah’s presence alone is worth the price of admission.
Simply put, this film features Queen Latifah at her very best – which, with her rising star power – is pretty darn good if I do say so myself.