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Overall Rating

Awesome: 14.75%
Worth A Look: 14.75%
Pretty Bad: 8.2%
Total Crap: 24.59%

5 reviews, 31 user ratings

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Holiday, The
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by Erik Childress

"As Dumping Women Go, I’d Like To Take A Dump ON Nancy Meyers"
1 stars

Whenever Nancy Meyers makes a new film, generic products everywhere breathe a sigh of relief for they are about to receive one of the few compliments they will get beyond their affordable nature. Nora Ephron suddenly goes from being the evil that forces men to sit through their work to get some action - to just the lesser of two. Say whatever you will about her wasting the premise potential of What Women Want, but The Holiday takes her work to such a new low that the blandness of her situations and dialogue actually got me hypnotized by the milliseconds of silence between every subsequent word. This is made all the worse due to the everpresent charm of the cast who look as if they had been brainwashed into believing they were performing within the confines of a script by James L. Brooks. But even if Meyers were to have sex with Brooks, she still wouldn’t have enough of him in her to craft worthwhile material.

Beginning with one of those voiceovers that reminds the lovelorn out there how hard it is to find a good mate, Meyers gives us a glance at all the players and fits us all into various unrequited types. Taking an immediate cue from the far superior Love Actually, we meet Daily Telegraph reporter, Iris (Kate Winslet), who has had an on-and-off love affair with co-worker, Jasper (Rufus Sewell). Just after finding a glimmer of hope for the holidays, the cad lets their boss drop the bombshell that he’s engaged and doesn’t blink as Iris is assigned to cover the wedding. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, movie trailer company owner (a more succinct job title is never offered) Amanda (Cameron Diaz) is throwing out her boyfriend, Ethan (Edward Burns) after believing he’s slept with his receptionist. Before Ethan leaves he’s nice enough to lay out Amanda’s character for us. Basically she’s paranoid and cannot cry.

Both Amanda and Iris, looking to get away for Christmas (but apparently not the more cliché-apropo New Years) decide to switch homes for their vacation. Acting upon the odd exchange rather quickly, it becomes clear that neither has bothered to tell anyone in their lives what they’re doing. Up front, it appears that Iris can just disappear and not be missed but Amanda has people working out of her home – even first thing in the morning while she’s throwing out Ethan. We’ll linger on the details later, cause Meyers certainly isn’t interested in cultural differences either. After getting settled in her first night, Iris’ brother Graham (Jude Law) shows up on Amanda’s new doorstep, drunk and hoping to spend the night. Again, the comfort of strangers takes on a whole new meaning as Amanda offers up her sexual services almost immediately. Back in L.A., Iris gets to double her pleasure with two new men. Miles (Jack Black) is a film composer who works with Amanda and Arthur Abbott (Eli Wallach) is a former screenwriter longing for the good ‘ol days of Hollywood when women had the “gumption” he sees in Iris.

If you’ve picked up on the recurring theme of film world occupations, you may be thinking that Meyers is going to make a point about how pathetic the community she operates within has become. Unable to recognize the old slogan about “not being part of the solution”, Meyers has no intellect in how to skewer the most basic clichés and instead gets caught within a no man’s land of satiric NO-how. Amanda has frequent fantasies about her life being narrated by trailer extraordinaire Hal Douglas, but so what? What point is Meyers trying to make if each instance isn’t intent on winking a twist on the formula at the audience, but could actually just be pieces of The Holiday’s actual trailer? Meyers is so impudent on reminding us of the Hollywood disconnect to reality that she includes a climactic speech from Wallach at the Writer’s Guild of America criticizing what movies have become when reduced to treating box office numbers like Monday morning sports scores. A point maybe worth exploring but not by someone whose last two films (Something’s Gotta Give & What Women Want) grossed $124 and $182 million dollars respectively and allows her the clout to continue writing the kind of scripts that parrots wouldn’t waste their droppings on.

Acknowledging that The Holiday is nothing more than a glorified fantasy for lovestruck women, it doesn’t even work on a level of corniness that we can accept as cute. Meyers takes light comedy to such a descent that it barely floats out a laugh. It takes an out-of-left celebrity cameo to inspire more than a one-syllable chuckle. This is no surprise from Meyers, so to measure her work on a guffaw count is a bit unfair. That just makes it worse though, cause she has such faith that we’re willing to hang on her every word that she must figure it’s a gift to give us 130 minutes worth of expository dialogue about everyone’s feelings. I honestly believe that if you wanted to tortuously go through each individual line in the film, you will have found it spoken by some character in some movie in the exact sentence structure.

It’s a good thing the leading ladies have enough vivacious curves, cause it’s the only hint of dimension that either have. Aside from her tear duct detachment, who is Amanda but a successful, hot woman who hates when guys cheat on her? Who is Iris other than a warm lonelyheart whose idea of a vacation is to continue to do things for anyone besides herself? When we find out more about Graham’s personal life, what does it say about him when we think back to the time he got drunk and stayed overnight with Amanda? And who is Miles to get upset at catching his actress girlfriend (Shannyn Sossamon) making time with some pretty boy actor when he’s clearly made two specific efforts to make company with Iris in her absence? Meyers puts as little detail into these four people as she does the film’s principle switcheroo plot. Forget that she’s so disinterested in exploring either location through the eyes of her characters that leafblowers and opposite driving are the only differences. How ‘bout serving up a little info on the terms of their switch so those of us with an upper-middle class income (at worst) might consider feeding this part of the travel economy. The details of implicitly trusting strangers with timeshares is one thing, but to commit a tit-for-tat swap what are the details? I assume its free. Are you required to do it in secret so everyone who comes by can either delight or be mortified at you not being there?

Perhaps the biggest crime on a long list of felonies committed by Meyers with The Holiday is wasting the considerable charm of her four leads. The stilted dialogue and absentee characterizations have them going through the motions with accentuated earnestness without ever manifesting an emotional breakthrough not aided by a song from Jet or The Killers. Compare the conversations these couples have with the poetic tones from Broadcast News, As Good As It Gets or even the underrated Spanglish. It’s like comparing Mark Twain to an editor’s letter rejected by Cosmo. I should be ashamed putting Brooks in the same sentence with Meyers, but she’s not even Zach Braff no matter how hard she tries to switch tones and use his iPod favorites. (Garden State’s “Let Go” and solo works from Imogen Heap are used throughout.) I can be a sucker for cheeky, manipulative romantic comedies, but those are four words no sane person could even attach to describe The Holiday.

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originally posted: 12/08/06 16:28:40
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User Comments

12/22/17 Louise jack black makes me vom 1 stars
11/25/17 Suzanne I'm a sucker for this movie - watch it every Christmas 5 stars
3/22/17 Louise (the real one) Mawkish rubbish - gave it 2 stars as I actually did watch till the end. 2 stars
7/20/10 Monday Morning Sophomoric writing, way too cute, predictable characters, way long. Otherwise great! 2 stars
10/23/09 Rachel Definitely a chick flick that leaves you wanting more. 4 stars
6/06/09 the dork knight Diaz's worthless character can't suppress Kate Winslet, luckily 3 stars
1/26/09 chloe i know how iris feels and the old man is so cute its the best :D 5 stars
1/10/09 Anonymous. a good chick flick for when you're feeling bored and/or depressed. :] 4 stars
10/22/08 Shaun Wallner Not the greatest, but not the worst film either. 3 stars
7/16/08 Reza Tayebi Waste of time. 1 stars
3/03/08 ladavies I never in a million years expected to like this...but I could watch it over and over again 5 stars
2/18/08 Tyler I love this movie! it's my favorite chick flick 5 stars
11/24/07 Anonymous This movie is the best ever. It should win atleast 10 oscars 5 stars
8/28/07 johnnyfog One more movie about rich white yuppies with no actual problems. 2 stars
7/18/07 Janie I LOVED IT ! ! ! ! So did my family ! ! We bought it and watch it all the time ! ! 5 stars
6/12/07 Taylor Fladgate Ah C'mon folks, this is a top notch chick flick. Love it for what it is!!! 4 stars
5/11/07 Rinlee I hate your review. This movie was sweet and romantic. I loved it. 5 stars
2/18/07 Gretchen Wieners Cameron Diaz's character too mean at start. Why isn't Eli Wallach Oscar nominated? 3 stars
1/15/07 brenda I enjoyed it. A girl thing! 4 stars
1/14/07 Rebecca I was waiting for something great to happen and it never did 3 stars
1/02/07 cody a darn good movie with good acting and moving story. 4 stars
1/01/07 Sarah Good cast doing best they could with rubbish material. Hated it. 2 stars
12/23/06 Liz Delete 30 minutes of the worst scenes (esp. Diaz' running), maybe I'll give it some credit. 2 stars
12/22/06 Luisa Love Kate, Jack and Eli..Cameron needs acting lessons..ran too long 3 stars
12/17/06 dominique good holiday movie! you will shed a tear 4 stars
12/15/06 stacey whats with the review i thought it was fab!! 5 stars
12/13/06 jdean62 I enjoyed... the best movie i saw this past weekend lol Loved Kate WInslet ! 4 stars
12/12/06 Tiffany Loved it. It was great 4 stars
12/11/06 Wendy Straw Very enjoyable!! 4 stars
12/10/06 Melissa So awesome, and relatable to everyone 5 stars
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  08-Dec-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Mar-2007



Directed by
  Nancy Meyers

Written by
  Nancy Meyers

  Cameron Diaz
  Kate Winslet
  Jude Law
  Jack Black
  Eli Wallach
  Edward Burns

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