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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 brianorndorf

"Eh, it could've been worse"
3 stars

Even with my distaste for all things Nancy Meyers, “The Holiday” isn’t completely terrible. There are some wonderful actors here who do their best to overcome what a-hole endeavors Meyers has lined up for them. It takes some serious squinting to 20/20 yourself down to spy the charms of this thing, but they’re around. Just in small doses.

I respect that writer/director Nancy Meyers can churn out safe, cozy mass entertainment that racks up big box office, and seems to favor the female audience (“What Women Want,” “Something’s Gotta Give”). However, I’m still waiting for Meyers to make a picture that doesn’t make my skin crawl and my brain turn to mush.

Englishwoman Iris (Kate Winslet) is frustrated in love, nurturing affection for an engaged man (Rufus Sewell) who loves to prey on her feelings. Searching for a getaway, she finds a website where she can exchange houses with another lost soul for a brief period of time. The ideal candidate is Amanda (Cameron Diaz), a high strung Los Angeles movie professional who is feeling the burn after a failed relationship. Flying to England, Amanda finds unexpected attraction in the arms of Iris’s brother, Graham (Jude Law), while Iris soaks up the L.A. wonderland with help from a neighboring writer (Eli Wallach), and a film composer (Jack Black).

“Holiday” is relaxed, mid-tempo entertainment, and I don’t fault it for aiming to please as many paying customers as it can. Where I think the picture, and the whole Meyers routine for that matter, goes wrong is in the execution. What the filmmaker has here is an extremely wordy screenplay, modeled after the more lightly screwball comedies of yesteryear, but no real plan of attack.

The story might seem a simple one of romance and personal inventory, but Meyers inflates it to unwieldy size, bloating out the film to 135 minutes. I enjoyed the character detail, but when the focus isn’t on furthering the personalities and their dreams, Meyers fills the blank spots with scenes that can only be described as “dorky.” The audience is subjected to not one, but two moments where our female leads have to “rock out” to a song they’ve selected; Winslet humiliated further by having to play air guitar with a pillow in bed. Meyers also instructs these women to squeal like schoolgirls when they find success, which, for the often bracing appeal of Cameron Diaz, is not a good idea. The less squealing she does, the better.

It takes quite a while for “Holiday” to settle down, but once it finds those calm grooves, the Christmasy, red-wine mood of the film assumes control. Meyers is blessed with the casting of Kate Winslet, who energizes the film with her spunk and inherent sweetness. Winslet works an almost Harry Potteresque feat by making her character feel real in a screenplay that gobbles artifice like M&Ms. She expresses Iris’s heartbreak and romantic whiffing with authenticity and survives Meyers’s bizarre attempts to make an ass out of her.

Diaz, by comparison, is a total spaz. Miscast as a Hollywood icon of power, Diaz never settles down in the role, mugging her way around the film in sharply irritating ways.

The boys do what they can with their bluntly drawn roles, but Meyers’s has assigned these gentlemen halos right from the start, leaving any hope for character dimension thrown right out of the window. Law plays the ideal single man: wounded in love and successful, yet needy in domestic requirements. Combine that with Law’s dazzling good looks, and the character might as well have “I cuddle after sex” tattooed on his forehead.

On the other hand, Black plays the likable, non-threatening tubby schmo with a “that’s not a banana in my pocket” weirdness. Especially coming after the Tenacious D movie, it’s bizarre to watch Black in soft-spoken, boyfriend mode. Mercifully Meyers’s lets the old Black out to play for a handful of scenes; only then do you register the charms that appeal to Iris.

Eventually, “Holiday” reveals itself to be a valentine to older cinema values; to the purity of screen romance. This aesthetic is embodied by legendary actor Eli Wallach, who plays an old guard screenwriter, heartsick over the way the film business is conducted today. Actually, Wallach isn’t so much a character, but a ridiculous mouthpiece for Meyers’s ham-fisted frustrations with modern Hollywood business practices. Why this material is plopped in the middle of a romantic comedy, only Meyers knows.

“The Holiday” is a fairytale; a healthy portion of romantic idealism to nibble on during the holiday season. If you can mentally block out the more extreme ideas for entertainment that Meyers constantly trips herself on, there’s a minute glimmer of joy to be had from this frosty piece of cake. But you have to work awfully hard to find it.

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originally posted: 12/08/06 18:18:36
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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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