Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Movie Review: "The Holiday" (2006)

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Movie"The Holiday"
Director: Nancy Meyers
Year: 2006
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 18 minutes

Two women with troubled love lives, Iris (Kate Winslet) a writer from England, and Amanda (Cameron Diaz), a movie trailer editor from Los Angeles, swap houses for a vacation and a much needed change of scenery during the Christmas season. Though neither are looking for love, it may show up when they least expect it. 

Nancy Meyers is well known for writing and directing female-centric, most often romantic comedies. This time around, she brings that style of movie into the Christmas holiday in "The Holiday." Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz star as two women that couldn't be more different. Winslet plays Iris, a writer who writes love-themed columns for a British newspaper. She lives in a small town that is about a 20 minute commute from London. Her home is a humble yet charming little house in the English countryside. She has been in love with a man named Jasper, played by Rufus Sewell, for over two years, and has just found out he's gotten engaged to someone else. Diaz plays Amanda, a go-getter and an extremely busy woman who edits movie trailers and lives in a mansion in Beverly Hills. Amanda has just discovered her boyfriend was cheating on her, but she is also unable to fully commit to a relationship and seems hellbent on destroying any good relationship that comes into her life. Both of these women are in desperate need of change, so they each simultaneously sign up on a house swapping website and agree to swap houses, leaving their real lives behind for the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas. Did a site like this exist before AirBNB? Or did this movie sort of lay the groundwork for that website??

Kate Winslet is very good as Iris. She is sweet and likable even though she is a little pathetic when it comes to her choice in men. Cameron Diaz manages to be much more tolerable than usual here, though she is not nearly as sweet or charming as Winslet. Part of this has to do with the role itself as she plays a wealthy, somewhat pampered individual. Of course, this being a romantic comedy, love interests must enter the picture. First, there is Jude Law, who plays Iris's brother Graham. Graham shows up at her house drunk looking for a place to crash only to find Amanda there. What starts as a winter fling quickly starts to become serious as Graham starts to look more and more like the perfect guy. Of course, it helps that this film was made deep in the thick of Jude Law's prime sex symbol days. Dashing and charming and handsome to boot, Amanda and Graham begin to fall in love. Back in Los Angeles, Iris befriends a work acquaintance of Amanda's named Miles, played by Jack Black, who is much like a male version of Iris. Miles is currently dating an actress, but it's clear this woman doesn't really appreciate him for who he is. Jack Black, of course, does his Jack Black-style silly and spastic yet charmingly likable comedic role. As he gets closer and closer to Iris, they bond over bad relationships and see a mutual understanding in one another. All in all, though wholly unbelievable like most rom-coms, the acting is pretty dang good from these four principal actors. We buy both Diaz and Law and Winslet and Black as potential love interests, though we don't really get invested in their relationships like we should. One of the best parts and performances in this film actually comes from the supporting part of an old screenwriter named Arthur, played by Eli Wallach. Arthur also becomes good friends with the visiting Iris, but in a much more platonic, father-daughter style of relationship. There are some really tender moments between Iris and Arthur that we really like.

Overall, though we weren't expecting much, "The Holiday" is quite a good film to put you in the Christmas spirit. The movie offers up quite a few good laughs, tons of snow and Christmas cheer, very high expectations of love for those of you who are obsessed with rom-coms, and a hefty dose of heart, holiday and otherwise. As with most of Nancy Meyer's films, there is no reason why this movie needed to be over 2 hours long and it does begin to feel a little long after a while, but doesn't detract for the overall sentiment.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 47%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching"The Santa Clause"

Two years ago, we were watching"Home Alone"

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