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The Holiday

Review Written by: Will Penley
Film: C+
What the MPAA Rating should be: PG-13 (for mature themes)

Directed by: Nancy Meyers
Written by: Nancy Meyers
Produced by: Nancy Meyers and Bruce Block
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Eli Wallach, Edward Burns
Studio: Columbia Pictures

It's time for a confession. I am, indeed, a fan of romantic comedies, "chick flicks," if you will. And because of that, I'm very sad to say that the quality of these types of films has been rapidly declining in recent years. Looking at works such as Failure to Launch or The Break-Up, one could easily become discouraged at the state of the genre. One major exception would be Something's Gotta Give, a very excellent film directed by Nancy Meyers. Her brilliant script and direction, plus the exceptional work of a great cast, made that film something special, so I was hoping for the same results with her latest work, The Holiday. However, after seeing this film, all I was left with were thoughts of what could (and should) have been. The Holiday comes to us carrying two different storylines, one very good and one terrible, making it one of the most decidedly underwhelming films that 2006 has offered. And if you're a regular moviegoer, you'll know that's saying a lot.

Cameron Diaz plays Amanda, a young woman from Los Angeles who cuts movie trailers for a living. Having recently called it quits with her unfaithful boyfriend, she's at a very bad place in her life. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Iris (Kate Winslet) has just found out that her ex-boyfriend Jasper (Rufus Sewell) has just gotten engaged to the woman he left her for. In great need of a vacation from their regular lives, both women stumble upon a "home exchange" website, which provides a way for two parties to swap houses and essentially lives for a couple of weeks. As they each arrive at their new homes, both women quickly encounter the one thing they were looking to get away from: men. While Iris starts a romance with a quirky film composer called Miles (Jack Black), Amanda gets involved with Iris' older, widowed brother Graham (Jude Law). The events of the next two weeks will change their lives forever.

With such an original plot, I would've never expected so many flaws. The Winslet/Black storyline is a complete delight to watch, but the other is a complete disaster. The pacing is consistently awkward as the film shifts back and forth from romantic and whimsical to boring and tedious. The quality of the performances on display here give me the idea that the actors involved must have picked up on this as well. Winslet and Black are funny and charming in their roles, while Diaz and Law are artificial and uninteresting. In fact, this is a new low for the careers of those two actors. Diaz is over-the-top and cheesy throughout the entire film, so much so that I found myself rolling my eyes anytime she was on-screen. As for Law, his portrayal of Graham is stiffer than Ben Affleck has ever been. The best parts of the film involve Iris and Arthur Abbott (Eli Wallach), a washed-up screenwriter of Old Hollywood. She becomes an inspiration for him, insisting that he emerge from his mansion to attend an honorary ceremony that the Writer's Guild of America has planned for him. There's also a great cameo by Dustin Hoffman that will undoubtedly be a real treat for any film enthusiast. Overall, The Holiday is not a terrible film, but it isn't very good either. I can't give it a recommendation, but I will say that there's much worse out there.

And to the people who were talking through the entire film...I will find you!

The Odd Couple: Kate Winslet and Jack Black in The Holiday.
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