Last Holiday

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EFL Movie Study Guides (for English learners)

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EFL Movie Study Guide for: Last Holiday


Story: Georgia Byrd is a "typical" (though "plus-sized") African-American saleswoman. She works hard, but isn't appreciated. She loves a co-worker but is afraid to let it show. She's a great cook, but won't eat her delicious meals for fear of getting too fat. At Christmastime, her doctor tells her that a brain disease will end her life in a few weeks. What would you do? News of her approaching death frees her to really live for the first time; her new boldness takes her on a dream vacation, where her common compassion changes everyone around her. This funny film will give you a glimpse of American life, and of the power of honesty and compassion. Oh, and there's lots of food on screen, so don't watch it when you are hungry! (110 minutes, drama-comedy; 2006; Starring Queen Latifah; Director: Wayne Wang; Paramount Pictures)


Note1: The first thing you hear is a lively African-American church choir; Georgia is in the choir and the director criticizes her for not singing as loud and lively as everyone else. Later you see that meetings at this kind of church are very lively! The people expect a visit on Sunday from a senator (politician), but he doesn't come. Georgia later finds out that he is "playing" in Europe instead of doing what he promised the voters back home.

Note2: Since many of the main characters are African-American, you will see that they don't always speak standard American English. For example, they use double negatives ("I don't eat nothing like that" instead of "I don't eat anything like that") and sometimes omit "to be" ("Why you gonna send him here?" instead of "Why are you going to send him here?"). They also use some nicknames when talking to strangers (like "baby" and "killer") that white Americans would not use.

Note3: I have changed or condensed some dialogs below so that English-learners can understand things better (this is not supposed to be an accurate transcript of the movie). Words in brackets [  ] are there to make a sentence grammatically correct; words in parentheses (  ) are explanations for the sake of English learners.

People and proper nouns:

Mr. Adamian: Georgia's young (and rather rude) boss

Arturo: the manager of the Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary

Ms. Burns: Mr Kragen's mistress (lover, not wife)

Chef Didier: One of the main reasons Georgia goes to Karlovy Vary is to meet this famous chef

Darius: a kid who lives near Georgia, and who eats her cooking

Ms. Gunther: floor valet (管家?) for rich guests at the Grandhotel Pupp

Dr. Gupta: a doctor at the clinic where Georgia works

Georgia Byrd: a saleswoman, and the star of this film

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic: Georgia's dream vacation takes place here, famous for mineral springs

Matthew Kragen: a self-centered, rich, young entrepreneur; he owns the store where Georgia works

Reverend: Georgia's pastor (it is common not to use a pastor's name, and just call him "Reverend", "Father" or "Pastor")

Rochelle: Georgia's co-worker

Sean Williams: Georgia's co-worker; they secretly admire each other


Some phrases:

blow (my money): to waste money; to spend money casually (blow it can also mean to waste or lose an opportunity)

cut me some slack: stop making this so difficult (e.g., when an avalanche closes the road with snow and traps Georgia at the hotel on New Year's Eve, she says to God: "You're just not gonna cut me any slack at all, are you?")

go through (sb's stuff): search sb's things; carefully look through someone's papers, suitcase, etc., when you are trying to find something (Gunther: "I go through everyone's stuff. I apologize. Maybe I should be a detective (侦探?) instead of a valet.")

in the first place:  [what happened] at the start of a situation ("That's the kind of thinking that put this store in Chapter 11 (bankruptcy) in the first place (when our trouble began).")

to spice sth up: to add herbs, powder, hot peppers, etc. in order to make sth taste better; to add interest or excitement to sth ("Brave people like to put some of this hot sauce on this dish, to spice it up a bit.")


Some terms (vocabulary):

*means that these would be good words for students to learn

acquisitions: (formal) things you bought, esp land, companies, expensive art, etc. (Kragen: "Senator Dillings is telling me that his committee is having problems with my acquisitions.")

avalanche: a large amount of snow that suddenly rolls down a mountain (often destroying roads or villages)

BASE jumping: to jump, with a parachute (降落伞), from a tall place like a Building, Antenna, Span (dam or bridges), or Earth (cliff) (thus B+A+S+E) ("BASE-jumping is dangerous. We've lost a couple of people doing this." "What, like people died?" "Yeah")

*bet: the money you risk when gambling, or the act of doing this ("That's a lunatic (crazy) bet. You surely will lose your money.")

bonds: documents promising that the cost will be paid back, plus interest, from a company or government ("As Chairman of the Commerce Committee in Washington, I'm always interested in how savvy people such as yourself operate the market. Why did you sell your bonds? Were you pessimistic about the future?")

*brochure: a printed item that contains descriptive information or advertising (if only one page, it can also be called leaflet; if multiple pages and unbound, it can be called a booklet)

bucking for: trying hard to get sth, esp a promotion at work ( "Are you bucking for head of the Salvation Army (a charity that helps poor people) or what? Stop feeding the moochers (people who want sth for free).")

butter: a yellow spread made from milk (黄油) (Chef Didier says the secret of life is butter!)

*CT/CT scan ( or CAT scan): a device (also process or result) that gives a sectional (3-D) picture of the inside of someone’s body (I believe the letters come from “Computed Tomography”)

*chef: someone who's job is to cook, often after a lot of training so that he/she is more skillful than a simple "cook" (Georgia: "I'm not a chef; cooking is just a hobby.")

cocoon: the silk cover around insects while they change into butterflies (); something that completely wraps around you for personal protection

*competitive: determined to win all the time, driven to beat others at sports, business, gambling, etc.

*entrepreneur: someone who takes a risk to set up and finance a new commercial venture

frumpy (clothes): ugly because they are out-of-date or out-of-style

*gonna: oral English, meaning "going to" (you should never write the word "gonna" because it is not really a word)

*gambling: risking money on the outcome of a game, race, etc.; if you guess right you make money, but if you guess wrong then you lose your money (i.e., your bet)

helicopter: a flying machine, powered by a large blade on top (直升飞机)

*incentive: sth that encourages you to study or work harder (Reverend: "As an incentive for us all to be singing in full voice, Senator Dillings will be here on Sunday to kick off our Community Redevelopment Program.")

jerk: a self-centered man who annoys or hurts other people (Kragen, when drunk: "I know I'm a jerk." Georgia: "So, is this where the jerks hang out?")

to liquidate: to sell sth (bonds, a building, etc) and get money for it, often to pay debts (banker: "You're sure you want to liquidate the entire IRA (Individual Retirement Account)?")

marked: labeled, often in a damaging way (mark is used in many different ways) (Ms. Burns: "I've been marked by this; no one will even talk to me.")

masseuse: someone trained to give massages (按摩)

merger: when two companies willingly decide to join together (Kragen: "I'll take a big bath (lose a lot of money) if these mergers don't go through.)

palate: keen sense of taste (Chef Didier: "You have a sensitive palate.")

the retail business: stores that sell to individuals, as opposed to selling to stores or companies (Georgia: "I've worked in the retail business for ten years.")

*sales associate: saleswoman, sales clerk, someone who sells things in a retail store ("Georgia is a sales associate at Kragen's Department Store.")

snowboard: a single, wide ski or board used to go down snow-covered hills

*substitutions: replacements (Chefs don't like guests to make substitution, like "give me beans instead of this vegetable.")

tonsils:  (medical) flesh at the sides of your throat (扁桃体) (Reverend: "Sister Abernathy is singing louder than you, and she just had her tonsils out!")

*wanna: oral English, meaning "want to" (you should never write the word "wanna" because it is not really a word)

*wedge: sth (usually shaped like a triangle) that helps you split things apart, or anything that looks or acts that way (Kragen: "She's here to drive a wedge between me and those politicians.")


Dialog 1:

Darius: I don't suppose you're gonna (going to) have any?

Georgia: Lord, no. I don't eat nothing but my Lean Cuisine (meals specially made for those on a diet)

Darius: What is that book, anyway?

Georgia: That is my private property!

Darius: I was just looking. What is it?

Georgia: It's just what it says, just my "possibilities" book. Just things I'm interested in.

Darius: Including this guy? Is he your boyfriend?

Georgia: No… Why are you snooping around my stuff, anyway? (people often change the subject when they don't want to talk about something)

Darius: So, what's his name?

Georgia: None of your business.

Darius: Well, short of you telling me his name, I don't know anything better to call him but lucky mother…

Georgia (interrupting): What? You might as well go ahead and leave my house if you're going to be using that kind of language. His name is Sean Williams. And you better not say anything to anybody.

Darius: I ain't.


Dialog 2:

Georgia: What are we looking at?

Dr. Gupta: Well, we're looking at the results of a virus you have, ma'am. I believe it to be Lampington's disease. It's harmless in most cases.

Georgia: What about my case?

Dr. Gupta: Well, I thought I'd misread the first CAT Scan, so I did the second scan. But that just confirmed it, you see? Ma'am, I'm very sorry to tell you… This is very difficult for me. Maybe we need a second opinion.

Dr.2: [Do] You see the area here? This is your mass. Your tumor. I'm sorry, Georgia, but the virus has caused a very advanced case of Lampington's lesions.

Georgia: What does that mean?

Dr.2: Without treatment, it's terminal.

Georgia: What? Like I'm going to die?

Dr.2: I'm very sorry.

Georgia: But I feel fine.

Dr.2: It's diabolical. Such a sneaky disease. I'm afraid you've only got three weeks to live. There is an operation, but it won't be covered by your HMO (i.e., by your company's health insurance).

Georgia: How much would it cost if I paid for it myself?

Dr. Gupta: Around $340,000. That's without anesthesia. You'll want that.


Dialog 3:

Clerk: I'm sorry, your room won't be ready for two hours.

Georgia: Well, my time is kind of precious lately now. Don't y'all (you all) have anything available now?

Clerk: I'll check. Let's see. Only the Presidential Suite. It's 3000 Euros ($4000US) a night.

Georgia: Did you see me blink? (Did it look like that price bothers me?) Look. There's Mr. Kragen.

Clerk: [Do] You know Mr Kragen? We are honored that he comes to our hotel every year at this time.

Georgia (talking to God): You [are] playing with me, right?

Clerk: Pardon me?

Georgia: Not you – Him.

(Georgia sees that Kragen is with his mistress—Ms Burns—instead of his wife; when Georgia sees that Kragen doesn't treat Ms Burns very well, she says…)

Georgia (to Ms Burns): If it's any consolation, he's going to have a shitty fourth quarter. (Perhaps it will make you feel better to know that his company is going to lose money in that last quarter of the year.)

(When she gets to the Presidential Suite, Georgia gives a ridiculously large tip to the man who carried her bag and then looks out the window) Georgia: What world was I living in?


Dialog 4:

Senator: They say these waters have curative powers; let you live to be 100.

Georgia: Yeah, well, I hope they work fast.

Senator: Clarence Dillings. Senator Clarence Dillings.

Georgia: I know who you are.

Senator: Oh, so, we have met. [At the] Entrepreneurs of Diversity [conference]? In Washington?

Georgia: Try church last Sunday.

Senator: But I didn't go to church last Sunday.

Georgia: That's right. You know, you left a whole lot of church folk disappointed, Senator. People who voted for you. We heard that "pressing business in our nation's capital" kept you; the pastor even prayed for you, thinking that you "toil so hard toting the burden of our welfare."


(continued on the right)

(dialogs continued)


Senator: I hope you'll communicate my sincerest regrets (my apology).

Georgia: I don't wanna (want to) have anything to do with your regrets. I have my hands full of my own regrets (things I'm sorry about).

Matthew: Ms. Byrd, is it? We've not been introduced. My name is…

Georgia: There's no need. Everybody knows Matthew Kragen. The man for whom "enough is…" (Georgia looks at Matthew's mistress) "…never enough." (then Georgia leaves)

Matthew (to his mistress): Who is she? How do I know she's not part of some consumer watchdog group or something?

Ms Burns: Well, it's not like there's a law against being at the same hotel with a congressman and a senator.

Matthew: Actually, there is a law against it if they're on my plane and my dime.


Dialog 5:

Georgia (in the spa after a massage): Why, Lord? I don't want to die. I want to live…

Ms Burns (in another part of the spa, talking to her masseuse): Ow! What are you trying to do to me, huh?

Brigitta (Ms Burns' masseuse): You have big knot in neck. You do something at work where you hold head in strange position. Too much holding phone on neck, maybe.

Ms Burns: You know what? Why don't you just shut up and do what you're supposed to do, okay? You're a masseuse, not a life coach!

Georgia (to Ms Burns): Hey! I don't like the way you're talking to that woman.

Ms Burns: I'm sorry if I disturbed you, Ms. Byrd. She was hurting me, though.

Georgia: I don't care. You don't talk to working people that way. Now, it's plain to see what the problem is here. You've 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. Don't take it out on Brigitta.

Brigitta: Thank you, Ms. Byrd.

Ms Burns (later, to Georgia): Is it that obvious that I'm sleeping with him? None of the other women in the company will even talk to me, and there's no one in my life who I can talk to about this.

Georgia: I wouldn't lose too much sleep over what other people think. I know this whole story. They're never bad people, they're greedy people. They want a little bit of this, a little of that… He will never leave his wife. You just need to leave him.

Ms Burns: What would I do? I didn't finish college.

Georgia: Well, then you go back to school! There now, we solved it! Let's tackle something heavy, like world hunger.


Dialog 6:

Darius: What you doing, casing the place? (i.e., Are you looking so you know what to come back and steal?)

Sean: Where's Georgia?

Darius: Hey, you're that guy. You're the Possibilities man. The guy in the book.

Sean: What book. What are you talking about? Where's Georgia?

Darius: Here, I found this book in her garbage can.

Sean: That's my "employee of the month" photo. Did she say anything about me?

Darius: Why? You like her, right?

Sean: Easy, Killer. Did she say where she was going?

Darius: Maybe it's in the book… Karlovy Vary. A place with healing waters.


Dialog 7: (The hotel staff is talking together)

Arturo: Georgia jumped; Kragen didn't. She's the most amazing person who ever came to this hotel.

Chef Didier: Oh, yes.

Arturo: She lives on the edge. She says what she wants. She does what she wants. True existentialist.

Gunther: Hero worship, bought with a kiss and an extravagant tip. She's a fraud, I tell you.


Dialog 8: (voiceover while writing a letter)

Georgia Byrd: If you're reading this letter, my disease has run its 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.


Dialog 9:

Senator: You were incredible tonight. How is it the two of us never bumped into each other back home?

Georgia: Probably because you're not home that much anymore.

Senator: Washington is a hard to resist. Come visit me sometime. You'll see.

Georgia: I'm sorry, but I just can't seem to get past that big flashing "for sale" sign on your forehead.

Senator: What are you talking about?

Georgia: You know what I'm talking about. What are you doing here with Kragen? I mean, what exactly is it that you two do for each other?

Senator: I'm helping him over some regulatory hurdles in committee, that's all.

Georgia: Well, it seems like you should be helping some of your own people over some hurdles. I mean, precious little's happened with that Community Redevelopment Program of yours.

Senator: And nothing ever will happen with that youth center unless I get re-elected. Having generous supporters like Matthew Kragen is a political reality.

Georgia: Well, I'm sorry, but I only have time for reality realities. Good night.

Senator: Good night, Georgia.


Dialog 10:

Gunther: Please don't die, Ms. Byrd. I read the note.

Georgia: You went through my stuff?

Gunther: I go through everyone's stuff. I apologize.

Georgia: To tell you the truth, I'm kind of relieved to have somebody to share it with.

Gunther: Don't worry, I'll be with you here to the very end.

Georgia: I don’t' know if I want to be here to the very end.

Gunther: Why are you here with these terrible people? You should be with people you love.

Georgia: Yeah, I've been thinking about that myself. One in particular. It's time I go home and find him.


Dialog 11:

Georgia: I heard you were a little shorthanded because of this avalanche. I just thought I'd check to see if you needed any help. But I don't want to get in your way.

Chef Didier: It would be an honor… a privilege.

Georgia: What is this food?

Chef Didier: It's a turnip.

Georgia: No, that can't be a turnip!

Chef Didier: The poor baby turnip. Nobody likes them. All the other vegetables, you can only destroy with cooking, but the turnip, she gets better. So, you see, it's not how you start, but how you finish. The first time I saw you I was so happy to see your appetite for food… for life. I'm so sorry.

Georgia: Gunther told you. Does anybody else know?

Chef Didier: No.

Georgia: Good. Let's not say anything, all right? Let's just cook.


Dialog 12:

Georgia (talking to herself in the mirror): You have been very lucky. Well, you didn't get everything you wanted… Next time, we do things different. We will laugh more, we'll love more. We'll see the world. We just won't be so afraid. Happy New Year.


Dialog 13:

Georgia (after Kragen finds out she "just sells cookware"): Mr. Kragen is right about me. I'm just a sales associate in one of his stores. One of the best. Or I was up until a couple of weeks ago.

Chef: You owe these people no explanation.

Kragen: No, excuse me. I think she does. She's had plenty to say about our behavior all week, and the only reason we took it was because we thought she was somebody.

Georgia: Well, I'm sorry. I didn't come here to give anybody the wrong impression about me. I just came here to blow every last cent of my money. You see, I'm going to die. Yeah, I had the same reaction when I found out. I tried to keep it to myself for the same reason. It's a party killer, ain't it? But I did land on that mountaintop. And I ended up on the cover of a ski magazine. Don't feel sorry for me, baby. Never in my life did I think I would end up in such a beautiful place doing so many incredible things. So, I'm sorry if I was maybe a little too honest with you. But I wasted too much of my life being quiet. I was afraid, I guess. You know how it is. You keep your head down and you hustle and hustle. Then you look up one day and wonder: "How did I even get here?" See, some of the things we care about a lot are pretty worthless. So, I hope I haven't spoiled your evening. And it's truly been my pleasure to meet you all. Happy New Year.


Dialog 14:

Kragen (drunk, out on a ledge, thinking about committing suicide): They'd like me to jump.

Georgia (trying to get him back inside the building): Well, don't start people-pleasing now. You know what? You're really starting to piss me off (make me angry). [She throws his alcohol to the ground.] Damn, that is a long drop. Look, a guy like you has all the money and time in the world to turn things around for himself, you know? So, just stop whining (complaining) and get with it.

Kragen: Get with what, exactly?

Georgia: I don't know… I don't have Georgia Byrd's five rules to how to be a better human being. All I know is, if you want somebody to care about you, stop trying to buy and sell them all the time.

Kragen: Do I do that?

Georgia: And you know what? Get your pasty face off the cover of your own magazine every month.

Kragen: I can't believe I had somebody like you working for me all this time.

Georgia: Well, I wasn't going to work for you forever. I was going to open me up a little restaurant. And, of course, I was going to have a husband and a family.

[Sean shows up unexpectedly]

Georgia: Sean, what are you doing here?

Sean: I found out about the Lampington's disease, and I up and quit my job. After you quit, I didn't feel like I had a reason to be there. It seemed like there should be more possibilities in life. 

Georgia: Oh, no! You done up and read my Possibilities book.

Kragen: What exactly is a Possibilities book?

Sean: Georgia, I should've told you this a long time ago. Georgia Byrd, I want to be with you, whether it's for five minutes here on this ledge, or 50 years.

Kragen: I like this guy. Good guy.

Georgia: Me too! [she looks up to the sky] Oh, come on God, knock it off. Now, why are you going to send him all the way around here when you know I gotta (I have got to) die?

Sean: Who are you talking to, baby?


(A) Tell your partner what you would do on a "dream vacation."

(B) Georgia was very different from the rich people and powerful politicians she met. Why do you think they became friends? What are some of the things these people liked about Georgia? (After you talk about it, look at question H for a partial answer.)

(C) The description at the top of this page says: "This funny film will give you a glimpse of American life, and of the power of honesty and compassion." Tell your partner what you learned about American life, and about the power of honesty and compassion.

(D) By the end of the film, most of us would agree that Georgia had lived a good life. When you reach the end of your life, what do you think will have mattered the most? Tell your partner what you are doing now so that "in the end" you can say you "lived a good life."

More Discussion (you can even talk about these with people who haven't seen the film)

(E) In this film, the main character was told that she is going to die within a few weeks. What would you do if a doctor told you this?

(F) Georgia decided to spend all of her money and go on a "dream vacation" to meet a chef she admired. Tell your partner about someone you admire. What would you ask him/her if you could meet?

(G) As we said in question B, Georgia was very different from her new friends. What are some of the differences between "rich and powerful" people and "regular folks"?

(H) Tell your partner about some of the ways Georgia changed (compare her at the start of the film with the way she ended up). Then look back at dialog 12. What do you think about Georgia's advice to herself? Does this help to explain her change? In what way?

(I) Georgia became friends with these people, in part because they saw her as “genuine”--they didn't know she was dieing; they didn't know she was not rich; but they saw her as an honest person who loves life. This was attractive because they knew their own lives were not always “honest.” Have you ever had a friend who was very different from you? Tell your partner about that relationship. How did you meet and why did you become (and stay) friends?

(J) In the film, Georgia won a lot of money (by surprise). She used that money to fulfill a dream--to open a small restaurant. What would you do if you suddenly won a lot of money? If “money” is an important key to fulfilling your own dreams, talk to your partner about ways that people get the money they need to reach their goals.

Closing thought: Georgia achieved her dream, married the man she loved, became a respected member of her community, and perhaps most importantly she helped other people move out of “sub-standard” lives to become who they wanted to be. I would say that is a “good life”! But did you notice that part of what made Georgia special was that she lovingly helped people see where some of their bad choices had taken them (an affair with a married man, a “for sale” sign on the politician’s forehead, the rich man’s ego--always having his own picture on the cover of his magazine…)? True success isn’t just about reaching your goals, it is about “playing according to the rules”, doing the right things with your life, and helping others along the way.

(For more information about Christmas, see these Christmas pages on our website: the traditional Christmas story, who is Santa (圣诞老人)?, candy canes, Christmas Perspectives (poem), and the pre-Christmas Advent season. Also look for Christmas wallpaper here. You'll also find movie study guides on this website for some great holiday films: A Snoopy/Charlie Brown Christmas, Last Holiday, White Christmas, The Grinch, Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life)

See our Website Standards and Use Policy regarding the sources of definitions used on this website.


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