There's a reason Kate Winslet has four Oscar nominations. Even in a film as fake-snow fluffy as The Holiday, she's able to imbue her character, lovesick Londoner Iris, with pathos and dignity. Since this is a contemporary romantic comedy (new turf for Winslet), she's also able to cut loose with some air guitar — although The Holiday is so mass-market it assumes Iris would rock out to something as MOR as "Are You Gonna Be My Girl." But even if she'd cranked "Ace of Spades," The Holiday would still be a painful viewing experience, amplified to agonizing any time Winslet isn't onscreen.
Yep, that's a dis on Cameron Diaz. Why writer-director Nancy Meyers (What Women Want, Something's Gotta Give) decided to cast actors as unevenly matched as Winslet and Diaz is perplexing. Diaz can play goofy-glam in the right context (There's Something about Mary, Charlie's Angels), but The Holiday also asks her to emote. Bad call. Diaz's story line — she plays Amanda, a tightly wound LA gal who swaps homes with newfound IM buddy Iris for Christmas — is also weaker than Winslet's, which only adds to the torture.
Why is this movie more than two hours long? Why is the eternally cool Eli Wallach trotted out for a subplot about Old Hollywood that's not only entirely superfluous but also a reminder of all the romantic classics (Breakfast at Tiffany's, Casablanca) your eyeballs aren't admiring? Am I swigging extra haterade for The Holiday because I'm so clearly part of its target demographic — female, early 30s, unmarried, and superficial enough to squeal over a humongo-screen TV?
Could also be I ain't buying what The Holiday is selling because it's a chick flick composed of nothing but false notes. Jude Law (corny) and Jack Black (dialed down) put in appearances as Amanda's and Iris's rebound men (both of whom turn out to be the One, by the way — oh, was that a spoiler? Tee-hee!), but The Holiday's main message lies with the ladies and for the ladies. Turns out the prospect of being single is so terrifying it requires frequent flier miles to avoid.
Opens Fri/8 in Bay Area theaters
See Movie Clock at www.sfbg.com
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