Last Holiday
TAXI. 2004
Director: Tim Story

Director: Wayne Wang

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Taxi Taxi (2004) is a one-star movie but I'd give it two because Queen Latifah as the cab driver with the souped up taxi uplifts this dog with just her smile.

I would never have gone to a cinema to see this, nor would I have rented it, nor would I have lingered from channel surfing if I saw it was on tv. In fact I only saw Taxi because it was what played on the airplane & I hoped it'd be better than nothing.

One of the hallmarks of a crappy film is they get shown to airline passengers. Such films tend to be only slightly less annoying than the long lines in the airports where you'll have your shampoo confiscated as a potential terrorist device.

TaxiThe "humor" consists of reckless driving, or bumping into other cars (several times) while still in a parking spot. There is no actual comedy.

Anyone who likes cliche car-chase scenes with no plot to speak of might find these car races & chases admirable, but anyone looking for a comedy that's actually amusing or tells a story will find it lacking.

And as with most of Woopie Goldberg's films, the producers can't imagine a romantic comedy between white & black.

The script turns itself inside out to insure no taint of racial mixing. So now we've got two leading ladies who rarely get to kiss their leading man cuz he's always white.

Co-star Jimmy Fallon plays the bumbling dork-cop who couldn't possibly catch the beautiful girl bankrobbers without a smarter-than-he-is cabby's help. Fallon's charm on Saturday Night Live did not transfer to this screen performance.

Last Holiday I personally find Queen Latifah so attractive, so personable, that I keep wanting to love her films. But cornball comedies just don't grab me unless they're brilliant. So-so is not enough.

Taxi was a stinko of a film no matter how you measure it. Last Holiday (2006) was much better, but still just a bit of commercial piffle with nothing beyond Queen Latifah herself to recommend it.

She plays Georgia Byrd, a woman who has never made much of a mark on the world, or even on herself. She has a cruddy job selling cookware, adheres to a bland diet despite dreams of being a great chief, & takes no advantage of her city's finer qualities or potential interest. And frankly, anyone who can't find anything cool in New Orleans has nothing on the ball.

Only when she gets the news that she has a terminal illness does she quit her appalling job, cash out her savings, & head off to Europe, still never checking out anything in her own world-famed city.

She meets people "above her station" while pretending to be a high on the hog sort of gal. Shyness goes out the window, & she speaks her mind with open heart, winning the adoration of the wealthy. No surprise at all she turns out to be quite a dynamic personality, more like Queen Latifah than the boring sales lady she is alleged to be at the beginning.

Last HolidayAs a remake of a 1950 Ealing Studios comedy with the same title, the screenplay is by no means a compelte waste. The updates are a mixed bag, but originally tailored for John Candy to fill the Alec Guinness role.

Queen Latifa stepped into the role with Candy's tragic death. A beauty in the central role rather than a fat guy like Candy or the dundering twink that Guinness created doesn't always fit the story. The fact that virtually anyone would be drawn to Queen Latifah without any excuse of any kind rather undermines a lot of the story points.

So too the fantasy of a po' black girl at the spa is condescendingly retro, as it wouldn't've been with the initial casting. Even though she's being played by one of the sexiest women alive, she plays the role so wholesome it feels like something for the children's channel.

It's still too common that black women in starring roles can't be too sexy as there's something dangerous & taboo about racial mixing. In this case she has a black leading man (LL Cool J) which doesn't mean sexy fireworks but only that Georgia gets to be "properly" married in the end.

There was never a moment we believed she'll die, so the few dramatic bits fall flat. The only suspense would be what's she gonna do when she's blown her savings & isn't dead, & even that we can see from a mile away will work out.

The main "point" & climax seems to be that Georgia is nice & deserving & would risk her very life to save even the life of a shithead (Timothy Hutton). Therefore she deserves the archly happy ending in the making. If it was any more lighthearted it'd be a hot air balloon ride.

LL Cool J as leading man, & Gerard Depardieau as the chief, turn in good work. And Queen Latifah is absolutely adorable in her role. The film as a whole is less so. Still, Last Holiday is harmless fun, rigorously inoffensive & void of suspense, entertaining in a trivial way. Latifah proves she's got attitude & comic timing to burn. I'd still rather see her in films that have actual artistic merit, however, as she has the chops for it.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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