Remaking a 50-year-old Alec Guinness chestnut as a comedy vehicle for Queen Latifah isn't such a bad idea, but cluttering it up with goofy action sequences instead of relying entirely on Latifah's outsized charisma most certainly is. Shy, reserved New Orleans churchgoer Georgia Mae Byrd (Latifah) has always lived life on the sidelines. She keeps her thoughts to herself and her dreams like one day traveling to the Czech Republic and dining at the table of the Grandhotel Pupp's master Chef Didier (Gerard Depardieu), or hooking up with Sean Matthews (LL Cool J), Georgia's sexy coworker at Kragen's Department Store safely tucked away in a scrapbook she's poignantly titled "Possibilities." Georgia becomes determined to turn those dreams into realities when, after bumping her head at work, a routine CAT scan reveals what appear to be several brain tumors, leading Dr. Gupta (Ranjit Chowdhry) to diagnose Georgia with a fatal case of Lampington's disease. Shocked to learn that she has only three weeks to live, Georgia withdraws every cent she's ever saved in her life of sensible frugality, tells her sleazy boss (Matt Ross) at Kragen's to take the job and shove it, and books herself a first-class flight to Prague. Intending to live her final weeks to their fullest, Georgia checks in to the Pupp's $4,000 a night presidential suite and spares no expense when upgrading her wardrobe at the hotel's couture boutiques. Georgia's lavish spending leads the other guests who just happen to include Kragen's CEO Matthew Kragen (Timothy Hutton), his mistress (Alicia Witt) and Louisiana senator Dillings (Giancarlo Esposito), who's supposed to be back in New Orleans meeting with Georgia's congregation to speculate on who this apparently fabulously wealthy mystery guest might be. Meanwhile, Chef Didier doesn't particularly care: He's simply charmed by this outspoken American who isn't afraid to eat butter and shares his lust for life and fine food. There are a number of excruciating moments that are almost too silly to mention that overly long sequence in which an inexperienced Georgia snowboards her way on to the cover of a skiing magazine is one; the scene in which Chef Didier compares Georgia to a turnip and means it as a compliment is another but mercifully there are none of the expected fish-out-of-water moments in which humble Georgia finds herself humiliated by the hotel's snooty snobs, a la PRETTY WOMAN. Instead, Georgia quickly establishes herself as everyone's equal the staff included and gets along quite nicely, thanks entirely to her smarts, grace and charm. One wishes director Wayne Wang, who depends far too much on madcap action to keep his movie moving, had as much confidence in Latifah herself.
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- Released: 2006
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Remaking a 50-year-old Alec Guinness chestnut as a comedy vehicle for Queen Latifah isn't such a bad idea, but cluttering it up with goofy action sequences instead of relying entirely on Latifah's outsized charisma most certainly is. Shy, reserved New Orle… (more)