Just when I thought I couldn’t find a fun, romantic, Hallmark-esque movie to watch this Christmas, I watched Last Holiday. With a tag-line like “She always thought she was somebody… and she was”, I knew I was in for a feel-good classic.
This movie debuted in 2006. It’s all about introverted saleswoman from Louisiana, Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah), as she discovers she has a rare brain tumor… and its terminal. With three weeks to live, Georgia casts away her overly cautious life-style of Lean Cuisine and frumpy cloths, withdraws her life savings, and buys a one-way ticket to Prague, where she decides to live in luxury before she dies.
Passionate and down-to-earth, Georgia charms everybody she meets, including renowned Chef Didier (Gérard Depardieu), department store tycoon Matthew Kragen (Timothy Hutton), Senator Dillings (Giancarlo Esposito), and Congressman Stewart (Michael Nouri). Living her life to the fullest, the only one missing is Georgia’s longtime crush, Sean Matthews (LL Cool J).
I watched the whole thing and wrote a very detailed recap below. Don’t fret, there’s still time to watch this holiday classic before Christmas. Just be sure to bring a box of tissues, because you’ll be crying for joy by the time you reach the end. Matter of fact, you might even need one for this recap. Here we go…
00:23 — To prove that Georgia is a religious, God-fearing woman, the movie opens with a gospel rehearsal at her church.
01:22 — Reverend name drops Senator Dillings, who will be coming to church on Sunday. Everyone seems pretty excited, must be important.
01:50 — Georgia walks home from rehearsal to a melancholy song (“Don’t Wait Too Long” – Madeleine Peyroux). And to show she’s in New Orleans, Louisiana, Georgia rides a street car to her house which is across from a white-marble cemetery.
02:30 — My girl is into extreme coupon-ing!
03:56 — Georgia watches an Emeril Lagasse cooking show as she makes dinner. Talk about a throw-back.
04:12 — My life for a dancing chicken, I’m crying. 😂 🐥
04:47 — Cooking show asks for a little splash of wine, but pours in the whole bottle. Georgia does a little splash and then gives it another little splash. Girl, indulge yourself!!! 🍷🍾
05:10 — In a pre-instagram world, Georgia takes a pic of her chicken with a digital camera and prints it out. My heart hurts.
05:17 — Georgia doesn’t even eat the amazing meal she just made. She eats Lean Cuisine! What a waste. At least she gives it to the boy who lives next door.
06:33 — Georgia has a Book of Possibilities, filled with things she interested in — including a guy that looks an awful lot like LL Cool J.
07:57 — Omg, it is LL Cool J. You go girl!
08:46 — The classic nosey co-worker is trying to hook Sean Williams and Georgia up as they not so secretly watch each other from across the showroom floor. She is my new favorite character.
10:27 — Cue awkward talking about random appliances in the store and weird silence.
11:11 — Georgia goes to ask Sean out but chickens out last second and ends up asking if she could use her store discount on the grill. What?!
13:00 — Enter stage left, Georgia’s a-hole boss. He’s is trying to save money and doesn’t believe is decent human courtesy. Along with hero-worshipping the store’s owner, Kragen, the dude has a flip-phone and gives my girl Georgia the one-finger silence treatment, talk about rude. His name doesn’t matter, he will now be known as Boss Dick.
15:19 — Sean reappears. And just as he is about to ask Georgia out, she hits her head as passes out. Talk about inconvenient. Are they ever going to get together?
18:57 — Doctor Gupa gives Georgia a CAT scan and discovers a brain tumor. Gupta tells Georgia she has Lampington’s disease (I googled it, it’s fictional) and if she doesn’t get treatment it is terminal. She has three weeks to live. Nooooooooooo. 😭
21:31 — The Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) administrator refuses to cover the $340,000 procedure. In a bitch move, the HMO admin literally hands Georgia a stack of paper a foot high and says that she can appeal. Ain’t nobody got time for that. 👋
22:50 — Georgia is now drinking wine and crying over her Book of Possibilities.
23:00 — Ugh, now I’m crying.
26:00 — Georgia goes to Boss Dick to explain her situation. Boss Dick is a dick. Georgia smashes his $400 flip-phone with her shoe and quits. She is my new hero.
29:28 — Sean asks Georgia to a Hornets game in a few weeks, but she obviously can’t go. My heart is breaking. Don’t give up, Sean, romance will prevail!
30:44 — Senator Dillings doesn’t show up to mass and everyone is disappointed. Everything is going down hill. Georgia starts talking to God, asking Him, “Why me?”. Cue the gospel music because we are about to get a crazy new song.
33:19 — Georgia leaves church and liquidates her IRA, bonds, and bank account. She buys plane ticket to Prague to follow her dreams.
37:23 — Georgia takes a helicopter to the hotel, like a boss. All the guests wonder which famous celebrity is coming to the hotel.
41: 47 — It turns out that both Mr. Kragen (owner of the department store Georgia used to work) and Senator Dillings are staying at the same hotel. Hmm, what a suspicious coincidence. Something is definitely going down.
44:13 — Georgia lets down her hair and starts a shopping montage to Gwen Stefani’s “Rich Girl”. Yass, Queen. 👌 My life is complete.
48:03 — Georgia shows up to dinner in a gorgeous red dress. When she learns her favorite chef, Monsieur Didier, is in the kitchen and will not be making the same specials tomorrow night, she orders the entire menu. #legendary
51:52 — Everyone at Kragen’s dinner table (the Senator and the Congressman) want to know about the mysterious Georgia Byrd. Rumors spread that she is a wealthy woman from Louisiana that was supposed to have a meeting with Senator Dillings on Sunday (but he didn’t show) and that she knows an awful lot about Kragen’s business.
53:31 — Sean misses Georgia at work and approaches Doctor Gupa. He learns that Georgia is going to die.
55:47 — Georgia and Dillings run into each other at the spa. Kragen and his assistant Ms. Burns see them together. Kragen is skeptical about Georgia’s origins and suspects she is trying to sabotage his business.
57:03 — Kragen and Ms. Burns are having an affair. I totally saw that coming.
58:36 — Georgia is introduced to Miss Gunther, a halo-braid wearing German with a bad attitude (seems villainous to me). How she got to be guest services manager I will never know.
1:02:13 — Georgia takes a snowboarding lesson. It goes spectacularly awry when she accidentally goes hurtling down a Black Diamond.
1:05:00 — Georgia continues to randomly talk to God.
1:05:32 — Ms. Burns is hella rude to the spa workers. Georgia intervenes and gives the best scolding of all time: “You don’t talk to working people that way. Now it’s plain to see what the problem is here. You got tension in your neck because you keep going down on Mr. Kragen and he’s a married man. At least this poor lady is trying to work it out of you…” 😂 Bye, Felicia. 👋
1:10:32 — Sean goes to Georgia’s house and meets the neighbor boy who shows him the Book of Possibilities. He sees his employee of the month photo pasted onto a wedding picture and is somehow not creeped out.
1:17:17 — Georgia goes base-jumping. Kragen goes along but chickens out because he’s a little baby.
1:20:11 — Kragen pays Miss Gunther to search Georgia’s room and find out who she is. Will all of Georgia’s secrets be revealed?
1:21:37 — “The secret to life is butter.” – Chef Didier #preach 🙌
1:23:48 — Georgia writes a letter to her loved ones: “If you find this letter, it means my disease has run it’s course. Enclosed is some money for my burial. I would like to be cremated. I spent my whole life in a box, I don’t want to be buried in one.”
1:28:07 — Georgia wins a small fortune ($100,000) at the casinos… why doesn’t she just win some more to pay for surgery and save her life? Talk about a major plot hole.
1:28:38 — Smokey Robinson appears as himself and sings a song. I have no idea who this guy is, apparently he’s pretty famous because they keep dropping his name like it means something.
1:34:36 — Sean kisses the ground after getting off plane. How cliche.
1:35:42 — Sean and Georgia are both headed toward each other but an avalanche is blocking the way to the hotel/to the airport. Something hinky is going on.
1:36:18 — Miss Gunther reads Georgia’s letter and decides to not tell Kragen about her disease. But she does accidentally tell Kragen that Georgia works for him.
1:37:40 — Sean climbs a mountain for loveeeee.
1:40:37 — There’s a fun cooking montage (“Sometimes” – Michael Franti) with beautiful close-up shots of food. 😍 Damn it, now I’m hungry.
1:45:16 — Kragen makes a toast before New Years Eve and reveals that Georgia is a sales associate in his department store and only makes $29,000 a year. I really want to punch him. What a dick.
1:47:19 — Georgia reveals she is dying. She makes makes an inspirational speech about how much her life has changed over the past week. I had the pause the movie to go find a box of tissues.
1:52:36 — Kragen goes up on a ledge and contemplates jumping. I am so upset; this is a total suicide fake-out by drunk white guy who “just lost everything”. It’s a horrible misrepresentation of depression and mental illness in media. But then again, I guess it just shows how much this movie is a product of its time.
1:53:57 — “You know you’re not going to jump. You couldn’t even jump off the damn.” — Ms. Burns #dying 👏
1:56:24 — Sean shows up at the hotel and sees Kragen and Georgia up on the ledge. He somehow gets to them in record time. In a touching confession, he tells Georgia that he wants to be with her, “whether it’s for five minutes here on this ledge or for fifty years”.
1:59:09 — Georgia starts talking to God again. Sean understandably freaked out. Maybe he should take back his confession before he realizes Georgia might be crazy.
1:59:25 — Miss Gunther arrives with good news that Georgia has been misdiagnosed by a faulty machine. Sean and Georgia kiss, my life is complete. ❤️
2:01:25 — Georgia uses her casino winning to open a restaurant, it’s called “Georgia’s Joint”. Omg, Sean is wearing a denim chef’s coat. Everyone in the movie comes to visit her restaurant. The chef from the cooking show at the beginning of the movie even attends (Emeril Lagasse).
2:03:29 — In the ending credits, the Book of Possibilities turns into the Book of Realities… a photo album shows a “where are they now” of all characters lives who were changed by Georgia. I think I need a glass of wine.
Last Holiday is officially my new favorite feel-good, cheery holiday movie. It will be the perfect romance movie for when I’m feeling down. Step aside Love Actually, there’s a new sheriff in town.
[media courtesy of Paramount Pictures]