Last Holiday appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not grossly problematic, the transfer seemed lackluster for a brand-new movie.
Some of the problems related to sharpness. Moderate edge enhancement appeared, and that occasionally left the image without great definition. Much of the movie was fine, and the quality improved as it progressed. Nonetheless, I thought it sometimes looked a little too mushy. No problems with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and print flaws seemed absent. The movie seemed a bit grainy at times, though.
Contrast seemed a bit off, as much of the movie looked overly bright. This complimented the dark-skinned actors but left everyone else pale and pasty. I suppose that acted as some form of justice given all the films that went in the other direction; too man flicks such as Event Horizon tend to lose the black performers in the shadows. Still, I thought the brightness made the movie appear odd at times.
The film’s palette reflected the same issues. The colors seemed coordinated to reflect Queen Latifah’s skin tones, and that left the entire movie with an amber tint. Some brighter colors popped up in exterior shots, and the hues were fine within the schemes used. Overall, the transfer was muddier and less concise than I’d like.
Given the romantic comedy roots of Last Holiday, I expected little from its soundfield. Indeed, this was a fairly restricted soundfield that fell in line with films of this genre. The audio stayed largely focused on the front channels. A few elements like helicopters and snowboards opened up the surrounds a bit, but there wasn’t a lot of information on display. Music showed good stereo imaging, at least, and the general ambience was fine.
Audio quality was acceptable if less than impressive. Music showed lackluster bass response and could have offered more satisfying depth. Nonetheless, the track was usually reasonably solid. Speech sounded crisp and distinctive, and effects were clean and clear. Music seemed peppy despite the absence of great low-end. This was an unexceptional mix that earned a “B-“.
A small mix of extras fills out the DVD. Most of these come from the package’s three featurettes. Last Holiday: Packing Light runs 15 minutes, 25 seconds and offers movie clips, behind the scenes bits, and interviews. We hear from producers Jack Rapke and Laurence Mark, director Wayne Wang, and actors Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Timothy Hutton, and Alicia Witt.
They trace the film’s development, the choice of Wang as director, casting and performances, shooting in the Austrian Alps, and general thoughts about the story. Don’t expect much real detail or insight, though. The actors offer surprisingly good notes about their characters, but otherwise this turns into a bland overview of different matters. The two sides balance out to make “Light” an average program.
In the seven-minute and 47-second Last Holiday: Last Look, we discover remarks from Wang, production designer William Arnold, costume designer Daniel Orlandi, and director of photography Geoffrey Simpson. “Look” covers photographic choices, sets and locations, clothes, colors and various visual concerns. Despite its brevity, the piece digs into the topics with reasonable depth and gives us a nice take.
For the final featurette, we find the seven-minute and 13-second Last Holiday: 23 Years in the Making. It features Mark, Rapke, and screenwriters Jeffrey Price and Peter Seaman. As implied by the title, this piece looks at the immense amount of time required to get the project brought to the screen. We learn about the adaptation of the original film, the development of the script, and various attempts to make the thing over the years. I like the discussion of the near misses over the years, especially since we hear about some folks almost attached to the project. We also find nice notes about the changes that came through the decades. This is a generally useful little show.
Two Deleted Scenes fill a total of two minutes, 22 seconds. (Lotsa twos in that last sentence!) These include “Kick the Car” (1:35) and “Where To, Cowboy?” (0:47). The first shows Georgia’s departure from New Orleans, while the second gives us a look at Sean when he arrives in Prague. Neither is special, but both are decent and would have been acceptable in the film.
Two Recipes appear next. These teach us how to make “Poulet Tchoupitoulas” and “Bananas Foster”. I don’t plan to attempt them, but if they interest you, note that they’re here.
Along with a trailer for Holiday, the DVD includes some ads. We get clips for Neil Young: Heart of Gold, Failure to Launch, All You’ve Got, The Oprah Winfrey Show: 20th Anniversary Collection, and Elizabethtown. These appear in the disc’s Previews area and also start the DVD.
A genial but not terribly engaging comedy, I like Last Holiday more for its social gestures than the material on the screen. It takes a nicely respectful look at its characters; too bad it sticks them in such a dull and predictable piece of work. The DVD offers lackluster picture and audio with a minor set of extras. This is an average release for a bland film.