The Holiday (2006) – Review

2 Stars

The Holiday is so slight and unfocused after you’ve watched it, you don’t even feel like you’ve seen a movie. The stars do their best but Nancy Meyers’ script traps them inside a tale not worthy of a first draft from the normally dependable writer. There are two stories competing for our attention and neither are interesting enough to be told individually so it makes sense to combines the dueling narrative, I would have just expected a more cohesive melding from a leading voice in the genre.

Amanda (Cameron Diaz) is a uber successful business woman, who thrives professionally in the marketing of movies, but her personal life is falling apart. Her long-time boyfriend has been caught cheating again and this time Amanda kicks him out of her oversized house for good. Distraught and slightly intoxicated, Amanda goes online to a house-swap website and starts conversing with Iris (Kate Winslet). Turns out Iris lives in England and things aren’t any rosier on that side of the pond. She has been lead on for the past few years by an older co-worker and blindly bought into his manipulative behavior.

At the office Christmas party Iris’s desired lover announces his engagement to a mysterious woman. So both Amanda and Iris are facing loneliness and heartbreak during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Looking to escape their predicaments and hoping that a change of scene may be positive, the two women agree to swap houses through the holiday season. This exchange brings the Los Anglian blonde, Amanda to the gray icy English countryside. While Iris is sent packing to the warm and balmy California coast, taking residence in her counterpart’s upscale So-Cal home.

Things get complicated with the arrival of Graham (Jude Law), who shows up drunk looking for his sister only to be surprised to find a beautiful blonde in her home instead. The two start a messy relationship that will eventually be hindered by distance trouble and the revelation that Graham is hiding a secret. Meanwhile in L.A., Iris has struck up a friendship with a once-heralded screenwriter who now wonders the neighborhood confused. The golden aged hollywood legend is played by golden-aged Hollywood acting legend Eli Wallach, a favorite of Sergio Leone, who’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly composer Ennio Morricone is given more than a few mentions in the story and on the accompanying soundtrack.

Mixed into this is a late developing relationship between Iris and a nice-guy film composer named Miles (Jack Black). There is zero chemistry between Black and Winslet making their characters already forced love triangle, even more awkwardly handled. The banter and kidding back and forth proves that Jack Black is well suited for the romantic lead but Kate Winslet shows no inclination for lite comedy. The Holiday isn’t offensively bad, or insulting to anyone’s intelligence, it’s just uninspired. The most amusing bits are the voiceover mock narration that summarizes Amanda’s life in short snippets, as if her woes are part of one of the movie trailers her company cuts together.

Director: Nancy Meyers
Stars: Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law

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