Warning! This site contains satire, cynical adult humor, celebrity gossip, and an occasional peanut by-product or two!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Holiday

What woman wouldn’t want to spend The Holiday with Jude Law? He’s about as perfect a specimen of manhood as exists. Those blue eyes, those dimples, that deep and dreamy voice. The only problem that seems to be stopping Cameron Diaz in the new release The Holiday, now at the Essex Cinemas, comes from the fact that while they may share great sex, they live an ocean apart. Yep, she’s your stereotypical All American girl and he’s the typical chap on the street in the UK. Uh-huh. So how come whenever I’ve visited England the men I see there look more like Winston Churchill in work shirts and jeans than Jude Law in Dolce & Gabbana? It’s not like I haven’t looked. Trust me, I know. They have stalking laws in the UK too as I’ve found out, and I can thank Mr. Law himself for that, not that I’m bitter or anything (Grrrrr) but it’s an ugly story best saved for another time. Anyway, this is about The Holiday.

You see, in The Holiday Cameron Diaz (In Her Shoes) plays Amanda, the wealthy owner of a movie trailer-editing business, who has everything but a man she can trust. The film begins with the finale of her latest live-in relationship as she sends cheating boyfriend Ethan (Edward Burns; The
Groomsmen) packing. From there she realizes that this is simply the straw that has finally broken the camel’s back. She tells her associates at work that she is giving them up, men that is, and needs to get away ~anywhere~ to reassess why all of her relationships with men are failures. Despite the staff begging her to stay as it is the busy holiday season, she is determined to find an escape and so she goes to her computer to hunt for a place as far away from her Malibu mansion as she can.

Meanwhile, in London, sad-sack newspaper journalist Iris (Kate Winslet; Little Children) is in the midst of her own man troubles. At the paper’s
Christmas party she spends a brief moment alone with the man she has loved from afar for three years, but while Jasper (Rufus Sewell; The Illusionist) knows of her feelings and takes advantage of them whenever he feels the desire, he has no real attachment or love of his own for her. As a matter of fact, minutes after sharing this intimate moment in her office Jasper stands before the entire staff and announces his engagement to another woman who works at the paper. Broken-hearted and humiliated, Iris hops the train for her cottage in Surrey and an hour later arrives home to explode in a flurry of tears. She knows only one thing for certain: she needs to get away so she can fall out of love with Jasper once and for all. Bingo!

And so the story begins as the two women “meet” via the Internet and decide to swap homes and cars for two weeks, swearing off men, beginning
the very next day. In typical Hollywood fashion, of course, Amanda leaves behind an ultra-modern monochromatically designed mansion that could house the entire village where Iris lives. Meanwhile, Iris’ home is as picturesque an English country house as one could hope to find on a Currier and Ives etching, complete with sheep in the meadow and its own quaint name on a placard outside the gate.

Now we basically get a double feature squeezed into the 2 hours and 38 minutes running time, long for the average movie, but certainly understandable for such a big story, and it is well-plotted and edited so that the pacing seldom seems to drag. There’s much to tell about the lives of these two women and the course of their two weeks in foreign lands, especially since this is an unapologetic “chick flick” from the get-go and so we all know that their vow of “no men” is about as valid as a promise to join a convent coming from Lindsay Lohan.

True, there are no great surprises in the grand scheme of things. Amanda is barely unpacked before she meets Iris’ very inebriated brother Graham (Jude Law; Breaking and Entering) and they end up doing the horizontal hula before the hour is up, but their story flourishes not in the fact that their physical relationship turns to love, but because the complications of their story are unexpected, and not driven by the obvious possibility that Graham is actually married. (He’s not). Both find themselves fighting their feelings because they know they can go nowhere…or can they? It really does become a complicated mess.

As for Iris, her story is certainly more chaste but also more layered. Writer and Director Nancy Meyer (Something’s Gotta Give) gives the British visitor two disparate men to occupy her time. The obvious choice for a new beau is Miles (Jack Black; Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny), a film music writer who comes by the house one day to pick up some of Ethan’s belongings as a favor for him. This is by far Black’s most nuanced performance yet, and he shows actual promise of being able to overcome his wild Nacho Libre/Tenacious D personas and play a serious romantic lead if the urge strikes. Oh, he is still quirky and funny here, so don’t be too thrown off, especially when he bursts into song during a visit to a video store (and look for a spectacular out-of-nowhere cameo by a major Hollywood star), but Jack’s Miles is a real three-dimensional character, and one who, like Iris, learns the hard way that he has put his heart on the line far too long for the wrong person.

Iris also shares screen time with Arthur Abbott (Eli Wallach; The Hoax). Like
Wallach himself, Abbott is a 91 year old Hollywood veteran with hundreds of stories to tell about the early days of the movie business. Unfortunately, in his old age, Arthur lives a secluded, almost forgotten, existence next door to Amanda’s home and through visits with him Iris learns her most valuable lesson yet, while she also stimulates in him a revival of interest in living once more. Together, they help each other get over the fears that block their ways ahead, and it is through this friendship that Meyers is able to write a scene that all women fantasize about but seldom get to see fulfilled until now: Finally, the cad (Jasper) gets officially dumped once and for all in no uncertain terms by the woman he has been using as a doormat for years. I swear, there was applause in the audience when Iris realized that she didn’t need cojones to kick him in his.

The Holiday is a luxuriant film to watch. The production values are excellent, and all four stars look gorgeous. Whether you can attribute this to their natural beauty, Botox, cosmetic surgery, or the miracle of filters and lenses set to soft focus I can’t say (well, okay, in Diaz’ case it’s all of the above plus putty and a trowel). They all radiate warmth, look better than ever, and the chemistry among the actors is unmistakable. For those reasons alone I hate them, but since it is “that time of the year” I’ll let it slide, especially for Mr. Law, who dropped all charges, and besides, I could never stay mad at that smile.

No comments: