To list all the contrivances strewn throughout The Holiday would require more words than are warranted by Nancy Meyers’s latest batch of cinematic maple syrup. Suffice it to say, though, that the kooky, heartwarming cutesiness peddled by this lovefest is—despite the film’s numerous references to, and accompanying desire to tread in the path of, classic Hollywood screwball romances—of a distinctly modern vintage. The Something’s Gotta Give writer-director’s painstakingly arranged tale involves the twin plights of neurotic American movie-trailer editor Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and clingy British newspaperwoman Iris (Kate Winslet), strangers who agree to swap residences for two weeks (via an apparently real practice known as a “home exchange”) to escape man trouble, only to providentially find Mr. Right waiting for them on the other side of the pond. Said dreamboats take the form of Jude Law (for Diaz) and Jack Black (for Winslet), a superficially raw deal for Winslet that nonetheless works to her benefit once it’s revealed that Law’s book editor Graham is a hunk of blandness and Black’s film composer Miles is a witty, self-deprecating charmer. Of course, these guys have secrets and/or personality quirks that make them seem initially wrong and then ultimately ideal mates for their respective beauties. Yet stranger than The Holiday‘s by-the-books fantasy is its subplot involving Iris’s friendship with neighboring senior citizen and Oscar-winning screenwriter Arthur (Eli Wallach), which, besides giving Myers the opportunity to pointlessly juxtapose the sight of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly star with an Ennio Morricone tune, both features an odd criticism of Hollywood’s obsession with opening weekend box-office figures, and adds a nauseating dose of aw-shucks old fogey sentimentality to the already saccharine proceedings. Whereas Amanda (who can’t cry) and Graham (who cries all the time) make a strikingly attractive but thoroughly dull couple, Winslet and Black’s credible chemistry partially makes up for the run-of-the-mill characters and implausible situations they’ve been saddled with. The duo’s genuineness, however, doesn’t change the fact that, for the sake of his career and the good of moviegoers everywhere, Black needs to skiddle-dee-doo-wop STOP with the improvised weirdo singing that’s become his worn-out trademark.
- Nancy Myers
- Nancy Myers
- Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Eli Wallach, Edward Burns, Rufus Sewell
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