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Movie Review: The Holiday

Posted on December 8, 2006 by

Many people (and by this I mean many single women) have a love-hate thing with romantic comedies; myself included.

We love the dream of a handsome man riding up in his white Mustang and fighting until the credits roll to win our hand. Going home after this blissful fantasy to hug nothing but the extra pillow in your bed usually kills the warm fuzzies pretty quickly though.

Now add to this the backdrop of the Christmas season, and you’d think The Holiday would take home the most depressing rom com ever title. Be prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

In The Holiday, Cameron Diaz and the amazing Kate Winslet star as successful women who have issues with the men in their lives on either side of the pond. In England, Winslet’s Iris finds out the object of her unrequited love has gotten engaged, while in Los Angeles, Diaz’s Amanda discovers her boyfriend has cheated on her and kicks him out of the house.

On a whim, the two connect over a house-trading Internet site and soon are escaping their plights and jetting across the Atlantic to swap homes for two weeks.

Where I usually find Diaz to be an annoying actress who lacks believability, she harnesses her ditzy persona and uses it for the benefit of Amanda’s character. The couture chick who we see struggling through the snow in heels at the beginning of the movie slowly loses her emotional walls when she meets Iris’ brother Graham (Jude Law) and opens up on her own terms, in her own way.

Meanwhile, Iris strikes up a friendship of her own in L.A. with elderly film writer Arthur (Eli Wallach). She also finds romance with film composer Miles (Jack Black), but this story line is delightfully subtle and doesn’t overshadow her endearing and unlikely friendship with Arthur.

Black may seem like an odd choice for a leading male in a romantic movie. Where you wouldn’t think he could take on any role that didn’t play up his Tenacious D character (think his ho-hum “serious” turn in King Kong), he is given the chance to both act and be goofy in The Holiday. Black’s lines are charming and also delivered with fantastic comedic timing.

The Holiday is perhaps so pleasant because the dialogue is fresh and modern, lacking any clichés typical of the romantic genre. But it’s not the only thing that’s fresh. The plot is clever and quirky, weaving two very different stories together seamlessly with humour and understated charm. A couple surprise celeb cameos and unforgettable one-liners keep any scene from getting stale.

It’s the girl power that radiates from Iris and Amanda, though, as they toss out the crappy men in the lives and realize who they are and how to get what they want, that really makes The Holiday different from other movies in the genre.

The Holiday is the best and freshest romantic comedy I’ve seen since Love Actually. Grab a couple of your single friends and make sure you can cross seeing The Holiday off your wish list this season.

Rating: 4.5*/5*

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