The Holiday (2006)

Holiday

Dave’s 4-Word Review:
Wife Swap: The Movie

Ahh, Christmas in July. Who doesn’t love a little holiday spirit during the hottest time of the year? It’s a little bit of Christmas for a couple of reasons. First of all, I was requested to review The Holiday by a good friend of mine, so Merry Christmas to me, and the movie itself is, of course, takes place around the holiday season. It is also a chick flick, which I am always willing to challenge myself to watch and review. Sometimes, I am pleasantly surprised with how well these films are done, other times not so much. For The Holiday, I thought it brought something new to the table, at least somewhat, but it did follow a very familiar structure.

Two women, both alike in dignity, in fair Los Angeles, where we lay our scene. Okay, only one of the women lives in L.A. while the other lives in Curry, England. I do; however, retain the opinion that these two women are both alike in dignity. Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz) is a Hollywood hotshot that takes care of several promotional work for films, mainly film trailers. Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet) is a reporter for The Daily Telegraph in Curry. Both of these women have had bad luck with the men in their life and feel stuck right where they are. Amanda has the brilliant idea to take a two-week long vacation in Iris’s cottage while swapping homes and vehicles with Iris. While they are, in effect, living each other’s lives, they meet amazing people and fall in love with men they would have never fallen in love with before.

I know that neither of these women are actually “wives” per se, but I can’t help thinking of Wife Swap when watching this movie. I guess a more accurate description would be Life Swap, but that doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it. This is a chick flick, plain and simple. It’s all about romance, comedy, with an exclusively huge focus on both of these women. That’s all fine and dandy, but where exactly does this film differ from others? For the most part, it’s just the concept: switching lives. There is also the fact that there are two primary stories going on simultaneously here, instead of the one. I hate to say it, but there is one aspect of the film I wished was more like the stereotypical RomCom, and that would be the emotional connection.

The first half of the film dealt a lot with these women in great turmoil. They are so stuck with where they are in life…to the point where they think the only way to deal with it is to leave on a two week vacation away from the world they know. So there are scenes with these women crying, and it’s so…fake. Cameron Diaz’s character makes sense, because she’s trying to force tears because she hasn’t cried in several years anyway. There’s no excuse for Kate Winslet’s character, though.  Winslet is a phenomenal actress, and has clearly had some powerful crying scenes in the past. This time around, it was like she was purposefully trying to sound like a cartoon character when crying. She might as well have been saying, “Boo hoo” during these specific scenes. Maybe that was just part of what the movie was trying to go for in regards to comedy, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with a deep scene here and there. In fact, the movie had plenty of deep emotional scenes…without the use of crying. It’s just those crying scenes I had an issue with.

The Holiday had quite a bit of stereotypical movie tropes we have seen in the past as well. Things like city-dwellers having absolutely no idea how to handle the cold. So when I see Cameron Diaz walking through snow in high heels and light clothing, I can’t help but snicker. There’s a chance she had no idea that it was cold over there, but…it’s December. Couldn’t a small possibility trickled its way into her brain? Again, this was another tactic to hit the main use of comedy in the beginning, which of course, was cultural shock.

It’s almost apparent that the movie tried to be unpredictable. I mean here are these ladies who are falling in love with where they are. Making life changes. Meeting people they would have never met before, important people. Clearly, they don’t want to leave where they are, but at the same time they have unfinished work at home. So, I could see how some viewers may wonder how they will cope with that. However, if you actually take it a step further and guess how it will end, chances are you’re going to figure it out before the movie is even close to finishing. That’s predictability.

Now, I understand that I’ve just been bashing the movie unfairly. I will go ahead and tell you what I did like about it. I really liked the musical score, which is good, taking into consideration musical film scores are actually a plot line. The on-screen chemistry is pretty good. I won’t say the chemistry is brilliant, but it is decent. At the same time, I think my past knowledge of Jack Black films made it a little impossible for me to take him seriously, which made his chemistry with Winslet a bit unbelievable. The actors; however, did a great job with what they were given, and I commend them on that. The scenery was also great. Also, from a personal viewpoint, I’m a huge fan of things that take place behind the movie, so I loved the movie scoring and promotional work on films. Sidenote: Dustin Hoffman’s cameo in the video store was hilarious.

Like I said, it’s not exactly your typical romantic comedy through and through, but it is really close. It’s also not a horrible film, but it is definitely far from my favorite. Check it out, and tell me what you think!

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