Thursday, 01 October 2020
The Holiday
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Tuesday, 05 December 2006 19:58

There is a level of sappiness that I am willing to endure in the name of a decent romantic movie. A level met by Love Actually (loved it), pushed to the limit by The Notebook (liked it), and grossly exceeded by You’ve Got Mail (hated it). Since seeing a sneak preview of The Holiday I’ve been trying to figure out where it falls in comparison to other sappy films.

The Holiday suffers from a seriously uncreative, and unmemorable title. Those two little words tell nothing about the movie and could just as easily have been the title for a movie about homosexual cabin boys working on a cruise ship, or about Texas jailbirds who break out and escape to Mexico. (My ideas are for sale, if the price is right…) The Holiday is actually about two women on opposite sides of the ocean that are fed up with their lives and decide to switch homes for Christmas.

Iris (Kate Winslet) is a British writer who can’t seem to fall out of love with her ex (Rufus Sewell) – mostly because he won’t let her. Amanda (Cameron Diaz) owns a company that makes movie previews. Her boyfriend cheats on her but blames her for their breakup. Both women just want to escape, so when they start chatting by email they decide that swapping homes is the perfect solution. So Iris packs her bags and heads to a luxurious mansion in LA, while Amanda escapes to a quaint cottage in snowy England.

One of the prerequisites for both women is that there be absolutely no men in either destination. But of course, what would a romance be without them? On the night of her arrival Amanda runs into Graham, Iris’s attractive brother, whom she assumes is a bit of a playboy. Iris meets two men, sort of. Her new neighbor is an elderly gentleman (Eli Wallach) who could use her company and encouragement. The other is a Miles, a good-natured composer (Jack Black) who is already spoken for. But fate has a funny way of ripping your heart out, breaking it into a million pieces, and then meticulously gluing it back together again. This film may be sappy, but it is also happy.

Despite the uncreative title, this movie does inject a dose of creativity into the mix. It is funny and a bit disconcerting when Amanda repeatedly daydreams that her life is a movie preview! I thought it was really interesting to see characters with jobs that we rarely hear about. Score composers, preview editors, writers; all behind the scenes occupations rarely seen actually in a movie.

It’s funny that with so much focus on writers and editors, the writers and editors of The Holiday overlooked quite a few major blunders. Some of the smaller issues are laughable such as a character wearing four different winter coats when she only packed one bag. But others are downright distracting. When Amanda arrives in England her taxi refuses to drive up her lane saying that he could never get turned around if he went any further. This results in a comedic scene of her tromping miles through the snow in stilettos, dragging her luggage. But later in the film we see numerous other cars, including an SUV and another taxi, pulling right up to the door and leaving without any problem! These kinds of inconsistencies are a bit annoying.

The following readings for The Holiday were spat out by my Sap-O-Meter. Elements that contribute to the Sappiness Factor: An elderly man; a cute dog; two adorable children; a song written about a girl.
Sappiness level comparable to: Kittens playing with toilet paper.
The Holiday enjoyability rating: 6 out of 10.