I saw this film several months ago, so please pardon the fuzzy recall.
The plot begins with Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah) as a woman unable to experience life. She loves to cook but feeds the fruits of her lbors to a neighborhood kid. She has a crush on a guy (LL Cool J) but can’t ask him on a date. She meticulously saves her money but never spends any on herself.
After a nasty fall at work (a job she despises for good reason), she receives news that she has a rare brain condition and has only three weeks to live. With no family to speak of, she decides to blow her life’s savings. She goes to the restaurant of her dreams, eats with the decadence of Marie Antoinette, and lives for the first time. She stops to view beauty all around her and proverbially smell the roses. This is all rather textbook, but it has some nice touches I like. For example, she becomes more outgoing, but in a gentle, kind way that would explain her new magnetism. Most people throwing around that kind of money quickly learn they can be rude to other people who serve them. Instead, she takes moments to show them the magnificence of life that surrounds them.
Many of the movie’s themes surround food. As somewhat of a foodie myself, this element of the movie was very enticing. I love chopping, sautéing, and all manner of cooking challenges. Master chefs all know that one of the crucial elements of successful cooking is tasting each dish and adjusting seasonings accordingly. Watching Georgia refuse to eat her own creations was frustrating. The thing I found interesting about the point-counterpoint of her cooking is that before the diagnosis, she followed each recipe to the letter. After, she was tasting, adjusting, and not just cooking…she was creating. Crafting unique recipes leads to incredible satisfaction; it’s not just that the dish is tasty, but also that one can share the experience with others by serving the new creation.
I thought that Last Holiday was going to be all comedy, but I was wrong. The movie is pure Hollywood: perfect hair and makeup on everyone, a trite message, and a requirement for a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief. Add a dash of the storybook ending and you have nice, tidy movie.