Here’s to some fun on ‘Holiday’
Devoid of dancing elves, sappy Hallmark dialogue and gagging moral lessons, “The Holiday,” while not altogether unpredictable, is a fun, refreshing switch to hackneyed holiday film fare. Amanda (Cameron Diaz) is a rich Malibu girl who professionally makes trailers for movies; (don’t be worried when the film opens with a sickeningly melodramatic make-out session). Her chapter starts with her live-in boyfriend waking up on the couch and dodging high heels Amanda flings at him after discovering that he has been having an affair. As a driven working woman who has long-since avoided investing much emotionally into relationships, Amanda wants to cry about it but can’t. She simply decides she needs to skip town for the holidays.Meanwhile in London, Iris (Kate Winslet) is the opposite. She has invested far too much into her relationship, despite the unrequited nature of it, and, upon realizing that the co-worker with whom she’s in love is engaged to another colleague, she too feels it’s time to find a last-minute getaway.Amanda comes across Iris’ countryside cottage available online for short-term rental, and when she writes to Iris, they agree to swap homes for a couple of weeks.Iris takes to Amanda’s L.A. mansion much more quickly than Amanda does the quaint and isolated English cottage. The Hollywood queen is seen dragging her enormous suitcase down a snowy country lane in slippery, needle-sharp heels before arriving at Iris’ house and managing to entertain herself in lonely solitude for five minutes before booking a flight back home.Plans change when Iris’ drunken brother Graham (Jude Law) shows up at Amanda’s front door. In Tinseltown, Iris is working hard at the true spirit of vacation – escaping her life and making new friends, including elderly neighbor Arthur, who turns out to be a filmmaking icon, and Miles, Jack Black’s tamed yet unmistakably Jack Blackish character.Keep in mind that “holiday” is British for “vacation.” Who would have guessed that you don’t have to watch another Charles Dickens’ remake to hear little English children make adorable comments that are wise beyond their years? The dialogue is fantastic, even to where the film’s 138 minutes long by any movie standards much less a romantic comedy breeze by in one after another entertaining pockets of fluff.Director and writer Nancy Meyers (“Something’s Gotta Give,” “Father of the Bride”) has pieced together another well-scripted tumble through the quest for Mr. Right. The acting is great, the cast is beautiful (even Black looks kinda sexy in a clean shave and a convertible), and all the lost souls find a mate. Sure, put that way it may sound like another tired, unrealistic, ahh-love piece of plastic.Luckily, Meyers has written in enough little character quirks to make it all fresh and funny, and the script certainly contains its glimpses of real life. Diaz’s character, for instance, is plagued by an overactive imagination chock-full of Ally McBealesque flashes of movie trailers pertaining to her own life. And you gotta respect a holiday movie that has its characters sniffing gas fumes off the stove or exclaiming “F-K!” in the midst of all the relationship and vacation imperfection. Despite it’s cookie-cutter outcome, “The Holiday” is an enjoyable, happily unwholesome winter ride.
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