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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 EricDSnider

"What women want: 2 1/2 hour romantic-comedies."
3 stars

Like most Christmas vacations, "The Holiday" is way too long and a little too cutesy. I'm convinced no formulaic romantic comedy needs to be over 100 minutes, let alone over 130, and surely the adorability of Jack Black diminishes with each successive viewing of him. Yet Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz are the stars, in material tailor-made for them -- Winslet's unorthodox beauty and vulnerability, Diaz's goofy energy -- and they go a long way toward making it work.

It's from the pastel-colored, softer-side-of-Sears, what-women-want mind of Nancy Meyers, writer-director of "Something's Gotta Give" and director of, um, "What Women Want." It gives us two female protagonists with different relationship problems, thus giving female audience members twice as many possible entry points into the story: Amanda (Diaz) had a good boyfriend who cheated on her and got kicked to the curb, sending Amanda into a fit of self-consciousness and righteous indignation; Iris (Winslet) had a lengthy affair with a cad who is now engaged to be married, yet Iris cannot seem to extricate herself from him, no matter how hard she tries.

Amanda lives in L.A., where she edits movie trailers for a living. Amusingly, she keeps imagining what the trailer for her life would sound like, and she doesn't like it. Iris is a newspaper reporter in Surrey, England, writing obituaries about people whose lives were more full than hers is. Both in need of an escape for their Christmas vacations, Amanda and Iris meet online and swap houses for two weeks.

As Cupid would have it, while the women are trying to get away from men, they each find a local man to fall in love with. Amanda, staying at Iris' cozy rural cottage, meets Iris' rakish brother Graham (Jude Law). Iris, at Amanda's palatial Hollywood home, connects with Miles (Jack Black), a film-score composer who is friends with Amanda's ex.

If you have noticed that there doesn't seem to be much of a conflict anywhere in that plot description, then you are one step ahead of Nancy Meyers. The usual romantic-comedy tropes, where the girl lies to the guy about her background/name/job/etc. and is eventually found out, or where the guy and girl hate each other at first, are refreshingly absent. Believe me, I applaud the idea of making a romantic-comedy that does not rely entirely on cliched conflicts. But there needs to be SOME kind of complication.

The best "The Holiday" can muster is the fact that, love or no love, Amanda and Iris both have to return home at some point. Yet even this pseudo-conflict isn't broached until late in the game, and its resolution is a foregone conclusion.

Iris spends a lot of time with Amanda's next-door neighbor, an old man named Arthur (Eli Wallach) who was once a screenwriter and is now doddering and forgetful. Their scenes are immensely charming but naggingly irrelevant. It might be interesting to have Iris regain her self-confidence through a non-romantic relationship such as this, but the film gives her Arthur AND a new love interest. She doesn't need both, and neither does the movie.

The "Shrek" films aside, this is the most likable and funny that Cameron Diaz has been in years. She starts off with some over-the-top fuming and histrionics, but once she settles down, she's a relatable neurotic mess, and good with the comedy, too. Likewise, Kate Winslet -- in her fourth film this year! -- is sympathetic, a smart woman who has been unwise in love but who earns our affections, not our judgments.

If the film weren't so long -- more importantly, if it didn't FEEL so long -- I'd be able to give it a more glowing recommendation. It has some laughs, and Winslet's character is particularly endearing. But it's too bloated and precious the way it is, a little too adorable even for this adorable time of year.

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originally posted: 12/08/06 21:03:49
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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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