Presumably designed for the audience of frumpy, late-30s white women that she's been happily courting since becoming an Oscar nominee a few years ago, Queen Latifah's latest vehicle—the predictably predictable Last Holiday—finds our former heroine charting new lows in the rapper-turned-schlocky actor idiom.
In it, the queen plays Georgia Byrd, a frumpy, bookish, and boring department store employee who harbors a secret, inexplicably mutual affection for her handsome and charming coworker, played by the equally fallen (and ever-orally fixated) LL Cool J. In no time we're whisked past any plausible explanation about just why the beefcake is interested in the bookish bore, as Georgia is nearly immediately diagnosed with a rare brain condition (by an inept, semi-racist Indian doctor character, no less), and given three weeks to live. Soon she's telling off her asshole boss, throwing around her life savings, and flying to Prague for no discernable reason other than it's cheap to shoot movies in Prague. A quick case of unlikely mistaken identity quickly insinuates the supposedly dying, newly liberated Queen into a place of authority among the high-profile guests at her hotel, and soon her down home, "earthy" charm begins to change everyone's life. Did I mention that LL is on his way to Prague to profess his undying, and previously unestablished love? Of course he is.
Taking its place on her increasingly embarrassing resume (films like Bringing Down the House and Taxi, her recent Teflon-slick vocal jazz record, a Wal-Mart ad campaign, etc.), Last Holiday further concretes the fact that the Queen has, like all too many short shelf-life rappers before her, descended from a throne of social/cultural relevance to that of sterile industry shill—palatable, affable, and happy to drop some semi-street slang for the sake of an occasional punchline. For every erstwhile rapper-turned-actor currently signing their neutered pseudonyms onto whatever schlock Hollywood decides to throw at them—the bar has been significantly lowered.