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Monday March 26, 2007 6:45 pm

The Holiday DVD Review

The Holiday

In the newly released DVD, The Holiday, women all over the world are unlucky in love (shocker!).  In LA, Amanda (Cameron Diaz) discovers that her boyfriend is cheating on her.  Meanwhile in England, Iris (Kate Winslet) learns that her pseudo-boyfriend is actually marrying someone else.  Both in desperate need of a getaway, they exchange homes via the internet for the Christmas holiday.  But whether they can successfully detox during their man-sabbatical remains to be seen.

The Holiday is directed by Nancy Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give) and stars Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Jack Black and Rufus Sewell.  Rated PG-13.

When I started watching this movie I was having one of those days.  You know—the ones when you don’t ever want to leave home let alone take a shower.  So I decided the perfect thing to complement my grey sweats and the grey day would be a romantic comedy.  Something that shouldn’t try my brain too hard.

Unfortunately, what should have been mindless fare actually annoyed me.  I mean, one shouldn’t judge romantic fluff too harshly.  It’s fluff.  But just because something’s supposed to be easy doesn’t mean it has to be bad.  And given the star wattage in this movie, it should have been so much better.  I do have standards after all.
Why did this flick bother me, you ask?  Let me lay it out for you:  two many coincidences, a horrible film score…and Cameron Diaz.
Okay, it’s one thing that these women both need to get out of town…but it’s a bit too uncanny that they happen to find each other right after a man has disappointed them.  And how convenient that they can both leave the country on less than 24-hours notice.  Oh - let’s not forget that they both ended up in beautiful homes and met their future love interests on the first day!  The icing on the cake? Commitment-phobe Amanda just happens to meet a man (Jude Law) who’s also uninterested in a relationship.  Maybe, I’m just jealous…

Miles (Jack Black) is a movie music composer and spends a good amount of time talking about the perfect film score.  Ironically, it’s this movie’s score that completely overshadows the screenplay.  This film would not have been so schmaltzy if the score had been turned down several notches.  Unfortunately, the female characters were often undermined by the sweeping, grandiose and sometimes cheesy music.  It was borderline embarrassing at times when the characters came off looking more pathetic than they needed to be.  And don’t let me even start on those stupid ‘movie trailers’ of Cameron Diaz’s life.

From Frame One, I found her acting annoying and her character unsympathetic.  I actually understood why her boyfriend (Edward Burns) had cheated on her.  I admit, I’ve never been a huge Cameron Diaz fan…but I thought she did well in There’s Something About Mary.  But why she couldn’t pull of the comedic bits in this movie, I don’t know.  A simple case of overacting, I guess.  I think she does well when she’s playing off another actor.  But when forced to be funny by herself, she can’t live up to the challenge.  To make matters worse, she played a character who couldn’t cry. This sets up an another embarrassing scene where she tries…and tries…and tries.  Additionally, I did not buy her as the owner of a movie trailer business.  Just like in Any Given Sunday, Cameron lacks the weight to pull off such positions of power.
So was there anything good about this movie?  Yes—Kate Winslet.  Had this movie been based solely on her, it might have worked.  Not only can she act above any screenplay, but she has proven since Sense and Sensibility that she can play a depressed/rejected woman better than anyone (I think it’s a British actress rite of passage.)  When her part-time lovah crushes her, I felt her pain (As opposed to me cheering when Ed Burns walked out Cam’s door).  That other Brit, Jude Law, was impressive as well. Although I did not buy him as a single man, he was actually quite charming and funny—a la Hugh Grant.

Overall, this movie was merely passable.  There are far better romantic fluff choices you could choose for your grey days.  But if all you need is a little eye candy (Jude) and at least one sympathetic character (Kate Winslet), this may be enough for you.

The movie extras are also only ho-hum.  There’s your usual director’s commentary and then a ‘making of’ section where the actors do their best to compliment each other.  About the only thing interesting of note is the creation of Kate Winslet’s English cottage.  The beautiful home was created from the ground up just for the movie.  I knew it wasn’t a coincidence that she lived in a nice home!



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