The Christmas rom-com has Kate Winslet's character and Cameron Diaz's character agreeing to anonymously switch homes for the holidays. It's done through an online service that would seem totally ludicrous if it wasn't also totally true. When it comes to potential murder victims, this seems like one rung under the Craigslist personal ads. It may result in love for Winslet and Diaz, but for most of us, it would probably result in being found chopped up in a plastic bag behind a supermarket. So don't hate me if I didn't buy into this. I just happen to value my life.
It's that time of year again, and what better gift could Hollywood give us than another piece of fluffy crap. In all fairness, The Holiday restrains itself from being the most obnoxiously cute addition to the romantic comedy genre, but there are all the trappings of such (for example, quirky characters and desperate women taking desperate measures in a final attempt to not give up on men). But admittedly, there is nothing I love more than ripping the newest chick flick a new one. Merry Christmas to me!
Suspension of disbelief remains the most necessary trait needed to sit through a movie like this, as romantic comedies operate in the farthest realm of reality. Case in point: the two main characters, Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and Iris (Kate Winslet) are two strangers who cross paths online at a home exchange website. In order to escape their unrequited romances, the women trade places site unseen for the holidays. Iris moves into Amanda's lavish L.A. home and Amanda takes up residence in Iris's quaint English cottage, resulting in yet another charmingly ludicrous plot device. Inevitably, they find love in the unlikeliest of places as Amanda meets Iris's single brother (Jude Law), and Iris meets film composer Miles (Jack Black).
The key to a successful romantic comedy is chemistry, which is the basic problem throughout The Holiday. Winslet and Black are adorable, and I always root for the couples who look more like real people, but sparks never seem to fly and the pacing does little to start some. They seem too busy laughing and goofing off to consummate.
Meanwhile, the movie tries to force a fire between the two beauties Diaz and Law, but they are so awkwardly miscast that their situation seems more like forced breeding than a passionate romp. But c'mon, who wouldn't want to watch these gorgeous specimens collide? Unfortunately, said collision is more disastrous than explosive, and the interaction between these equally attractive people is like watching cousins kiss.
Director/writer Nancy Meyers has a penchant for love stories like The Holiday, and her track record proves it (Something's Gotta Give, the awful I Love Trouble). But her writing becomes more concerned with poking fun at her own movie rather than making it original. Are we supposed to feel enlightened when she points out the time-old formulaic qualities of the romantic comedy genre, courtesy of a line of dialogue where someone is described as being a "Leading Lady", but she's acting like "the Best Friend"? This smirky self-awareness tries but fails at an amateur attempt to make the movie more than it is.
If anything, I think I'd rather spend this holiday out of the theaters than put up with this lukewarm, poorly executed, pretend meta garbage.
Grade I originally gave it: C -
Grade I give it now: D + (for helping to further overexpose Jack Black)