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Overall Rating
2.86

Awesome: 13.56%
Worth A Look: 15.25%
Average38.98%
Pretty Bad: 8.47%
Total Crap: 23.73%

5 reviews, 29 user ratings



Holiday, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Loathe Actually"
1 stars

“The Holiday” is a bloated exercise in failed romantic whimsy that wastes so many precious natural resources that Al Gore could use it as the central subject of his next slideshow. It has a promising premise, a quartet of enormously appealing leads and a writer-director who previous efforts in the genre, while not exactly ground-breaking or daring, at least demonstrated a flair for slick, star-driven frothiness that got the job done with a minimum of fuss. However, instead of the lighter-than-air frolic suggested by those elements, we are instead presented with a lead balloon featuring woefully miscast actors and a plot that not only goes nowhere but takes 138 agonizing minutes to get there.

Set just before Christmas, “The Holiday” focuses on two women who are separated by an ocean but united in their inability to find true love despite being portrayed by two of the most drop-dead gorgeous women on the planet. In Los Angeles, Amanda (Cameron Diaz) is a workaholic movie trailer producer with an inability to cry or to display any other genuine emotion that can’t be summed up in a pithy sentence read by that Movie Trailer Guy. In London, Iris (Kate Winslet) is a lovelorn journalist with a hopeless crush on a co-worker (Rufus Sewell) who loved her, left her and still comes to her for editorial advice and flirtatious banter. After Amanda breaks up with her boyfriend (Ed Burns) and the bounder announces his engagement at the office Christmas party (which Iris will have to write about–boo-hoo!), the two women meet on-line and agree to switch houses for the holidays so that they can each get away from their romantic woes and spend some time on themselves. The next day, Iris is gaping at Amanda’s lavish mansion (complete with swimming pool, ginormous kitchen and two DVD’s of “The Glass House”) while Amanda’s struggles to negotiate Iris’s quaint little cottage, a place for which the word “cozy” would be a cruel understatement.

Despite having vowed to have nothing to do with romance while on their respective getaways, both Amanda and Iris have new suitors literally coming up to their respective doorsteps in order to woo them. In Amanda’s case, she is woken up in the middle of the night by Graham, Iris’s brother, drunkenly knocking on the door and begging to use the bathroom. Because Graham looks exactly like Jude Law, Amanda not only finds this charming but impulsively invites him upstairs for a no-strings-attached roll in the hay (in his sister’s bed, no less). For Iris, it comes in the form of Miles (Jack Black), a music composer who has arrived to pick up some equipment belonging to Amanda’s ex. Immediately, Iris feels a strong attraction to the guy, most likely because he already has a super-hot girlfriend (Shannyn Sossamon) whose presence will allow her to slip back into the third wheel rut that she seems to thrive upon. The rest of the film cuts back and forth between the two couples as they tentatively fall for each other and find themselves driven apart by silly misunderstandings, reappearances of old flames and other silly misunderstandings before the inevitable conclusions where true love wins out in the end.

“The Holiday” was written and directed by Nancy Meyers and while no one would mistake her previous films, including “What Women Want” and “Something’s Gotta Give,” for works of art–her aesthetic could best be described as “Nora Ephron without the edge”–she at least demonstrated an ability for properly casting actors with enough personal charm and charisma to overcome for the script deficiencies. (“Something’s Gotta Give” may not have been the finest hour for either Jack Nicholson or Diane Keaton but both were so entertaining that it hardly mattered.) Here, Meyers has assembled a cast with unique and distinctive charms but seems to have no idea of what to do with them. On the surface, the idea of a romantic pairing between Kate Winslet and Jack Black sounds like a slam-dunk–how could you fail by combining Winslet’s blend of fierce intelligence, winsome romanticism and off-beat attitude with Black’s headstrong goofiness and supreme sense of self-confidence? Easy. You turn Winslet into a spineless and weepy wallflower who just doesn’t know what she wants and you make Black into a neutered simp who constantly talks about how he can’t believe how he could have wound up with such a hot girlfriend. Things are scarcely better on the other side of the pond, where Diaz, who excels at playing cheerful, happy-go-lucky types, is stuck playing an embittered type who is so insistent on pushing herself away from True Love that you wonder why the guy persists after a while. As the guy, Law is perhaps the only person here who has been properly cast but his character has been saddled with so much baggage that he comes across more as a plot device than a romantic foil.

Then, as if worried that some sparks might still wind up flying between the leads despite her best efforts, Meyers weighs down her two entwined storylines with unnecessary subplots that add nothing to the proceedings but running time. In London, Amanda grabs Graham’s cell phone as it rings and learns that he is receiving phone calls from people named Sophie and Olivia. Instead of merely asking about them, Amanda decides that he must be a ladies man and gets all upset. Later, she decides it doesn’t matter, goes over to his house unannounced one night and discovers that Sophie and Olivia are, in fact, Graham’s adorable young children and that he is, in fact, a weepy widower. This is presumably great for Amanda–it allows her to instantly have to full family she has always wanted without having to ruin her figure–but it is terrible for the audience because of the way that Meyers has clunkily inserted the material in order to goose things up (how many four-year-old children have their own cell phones?) and because it raises questions about Graham’s character and judgement that the film refuses to answer.

In Iris’s case, she befriends an enfeebled old screenwriter (Eli Wallach) from Hollywood’s Golden Age (he supposedly added the word “Kid” to a certain line of dialogue in “Casablanca”) and spends virtually all of her vacation time helping him get into shape for a big WGA tribute. As far as I can tell, the only reason for the inclusion of this character is so Meyers can offer up some trite criticisms about the commercialization of contemporary Hollywood (which ring especially hollow in a film that is as commercially calculated as any currently in release) while reveling in the joys of the classics and, by implication, somehow offering this feeble work as a continuation of those grand traditions. So much screen time is devoted to this particular plot thread, in fact, that the Jack Black character almost comes across as a third wheel in his own romantic tale and you begin to wonder why Meyers didn’t just eliminate him altogether and focus solely on the Winslet-Wallach relationship.

“The Holiday” is a dreadful disappointment that goes on for far too long, contains far too few moments of actual humor for its own good (it says a lot when the single biggest laugh comes from an unexpected cameo from a well-known star) and features one of the most reliably exciting actresses working today, Kate Winslet, in what is by far the least interesting work that she has ever done. And yet, because it is virtually the only large-scale romantic comedy of the season, I have no doubt that it will clean up at the box-office. (The fact that this Kate Winslet film will probably make more in one day than her other current effort, the amazing “Little Children,” has grossed in two months is especially vexing.) However, that says less about the quality of the film and more about the fact that audiences are so starved for this kind of film that they will happily line up for one as shabby as this effort. Early on in “The Holiday,” we see Amanda at work putting together a mock trailer for what appears to be a hideous thriller starring Lindsay Lohan. I’m here to tell you that as intentionally cheesy and dopey as that faux preview looks, I would gladly watch that fake movie over this real one in a heartbeat.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=15291&reviewer=389
originally posted: 12/08/06 16:17:21
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User Comments

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
6/11/08 PAUL SHORTT FAST FOOD MERCHANDISING OF THE HEART 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  08-Dec-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Mar-2007

UK
  08-Dec-2006

Australia
  26-Dec-2006


Directed by
  Nancy Meyers

Written by
  Nancy Meyers

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



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