Thanksgiving is arguably one of the biggest holidays on the calendar, surpassed only by Christmas and Halloween. And while the last two holidays have inspired numerous films over the years, there have been few films that have focused on Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s the fact that the holiday doesn’t have the fright factor of Halloween or the festive trimmings of Christmas. Perhaps it’s the messy history tied to the holiday’s origins. Anyway, Thanksgiving season was largely reserved for the start of awards season. However, there’s one film that manages to capture the Thanksgiving spirit — and it’s it Last holidays.
Directed by Wayne Wang and produces under Robert Zemeckis‘ ImageMovers Banner, Last holidays focuses on Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah), a woman who fits the “middle of the road” definition. She has a steady job as a cookware saleswoman in a department store and mostly keeps to herself. But everything changes when she suffers a nasty bump on her head. A CT scan shows she has a rare neurological disorder that will be fatal if left untreated. Unable to afford the surgery, Georgia quits her job and takes every penny she has to enjoy her last days. She lands in the Czech Republic, where she meets the various guests of the Grandhotel Pupp – a hotel she has always dreamed of but was never willing to spend money on.
What makes the film a spiritual Thanksgiving affair is how Georgia slowly bonds with each of the guests over time. Among these guests is a prominent politician, Senator Dillings (Giancarlo Esposito); a senior congressman (Michael Nuri) and his wife; and her former boss Michael collar (Timothy Hutton) as well as his assistant and lover Allison Burns (Alice Witt). At first they come across as extremely snobbish due to the prestige and wealth their careers have brought them. But after encounters with Georgia, they loosen up and become friends with her. Dillings is confronted by Georgia about his broken promise to visit their neighborhood while Allison confronts her about their affair and realizes thatcollar will never leave his wife for her.
Last Holiday brings together new friends and love of food in harmony
These ties are reminiscent of the ones that bring people together on Thanksgiving. Regardless of the relationship, this is one of the few times people can come together to break bread and catch up. In recent years, the concept of “friendsgiving” has taken hold, where close friends choose to spend the day together when they can’t be with family. This is the way that Last holidays lasts, and everyone joins Georgia for base jumping and a night at the casino. She even convinces the hotel staff – especially the sober manager Mrs. Gunther (Susan Kellerman). As Georgia points out, she used to work in customer service, so she knows the bumpy road hotel staff often go through when it comes to catering to the wealthy. Ms Gunther even gives Georgia a tearful hug after learning about her diagnosis.
Georgia also breaks out of her shell during her stay at the Grandhotel Pupp. At the beginning of the film she is rather shy and dresses conservatively. She hardly has the courage to talk to her colleague Sean (LL Cool J) who she has a crush on. And the only indulgence she allows herself is her Possibilities book: a scrapbook of all the things she would do if she had the time. When she learns of her diagnosis, she sheds her conservative image and begins speaking her mind. She dresses her manager Mr. Adamian (Matt Ross), who seems to care more about his phone than the well-being of his employees. She wears more vibrant and eye-catching clothing, including a fiery red dress that made it onto the film’s poster. And she indulges in the local cuisine, one of her favorite pastimes.
This leads into the film’s other Thanksgiving-like element: the food. There are luxurious shots of dishes being prepared, including roast pheasant and bouillabaisse. Georgia eventually befriends chef Didier (Gerhard Depardieu) who is thrilled to learn she likes his food. It is enough for him to invite her to the New Year’s feast for cooking. And at the beginning of the film, Georgia repeats a recipe from Emeril Lagasse‘s Emily Live! The real Lagasse shows up towards the end when Georgia and Sean open their own restaurant.
The film has very little in common with its 1950s version, and that’s a good thing
Yes, the film ends with a happy ending. It turns out that Georgia’s CT scan was a mistake and that she will live a healthy life while Sean flies to the Grand Hotel to tell her. The two confess their feelings and even get married — albeit in a skydiving session, reflecting Georgia’s newfound spirit. It’s far from the original Alec Guinness Movie in which the protagonist found out he was in perfect health… and was killed instantly after being hit by a car.
In fact, the film has undergone a number of changes over the years. screenwriters Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman originally co-wrote the film John Candy in the head and Karl Reiner Connected directly. After Candy’s death, the script ended up with Queen Latifah’s agent, who suggested a rewrite. It worked; Latifah’s flair for comedic timing and shifting from shyness to ferocity helps keep viewers engaged with the film. Wang after previously directing the hit Maids in ManhattanShe also brings the same heartwarming sentiment from that film Last holidays. The late, big one Robert Ebert summed it up best in his review: “It’s good to take care of important cinema Syriana and Munichbut occasionally we have to be open to films that have more modest ambitions: they just want to amuse us, warm us, and make us feel good. Last holidays plays like a hug.”
Other critics did not share Ebert’s view, and their reaction was lukewarm at best. make it worse Last holidays failed to break even at the box office. Still, it’s a solid watch and a reminder of the bonds that friendship and good food can create.
Last holidays can be streamed on Paramount+ and Prime Video.