'Last Holiday'

How in the hell did the new Queen Latifah movie, a tired-looking remake of an Alec Guinness chestnut, become the story of a working-class African American woman— from New Orleans!—taking revenge on Washington insiders who cater to special-interest groups while ignoring the poor? Boldly tackling congressional corruption and HMO avarice without sacrificing its heart or humor, Last Holiday is the most surprisingly satisfying Hollywood comedy in ages. Latifah plays a cautious department store clerk who, upon learning she has three weeks to live because her health insurance will not cover her brain surgery, blows her savings on a lavish getaway at a European ski resort. With death just days away, the previously circumspect Latifah does and says what she feels, and by placing her in opposition to Big Retail (in the form of a supremely oily Timothy Hutton) Last Holiday adopts its heroine's I-don't-care-who-I-piss-off attitude. Ultimately, the film's brash political style nurtures its sense of humor instead of stifling it, confirming that there can be more to so-called adult comedies than puerile excretion gags.

 
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