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Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Holiday

**** The Holiday. Romantic comedy.

Directed by: Nancy Myers
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black.

We went to see this at the Hercules theater at Ramstein on Thursday. Carl's idea. He's obviously feeling guilty about being gone on Valentine's Day. Again. (Carl's leaving tomorrow for 10 days in San Antonio. We've been giving him a lot of shit about it, which is probably not nice of us, but damnit, he'll get to have nice weather and eat at Taco Cabana--he'll get over it.)

Amanda in L.A. (Cameron Diaz) and Iris in Surrey (Kate Winslet) are both having man problems: Amanda's just broken up with her cheating boyfriend, and Iris's sort-of ex has just gotten engaged. They both decide a vacation is in order, and with the help of a house-swapping website, trade houses for two weeks.

The "comedy" part of "romantic comedy" comes in when the two women have to adjust to different lifestyles. I've never been to either England or California, but it rang pretty true to me, and didn't seem too exaggerated. The jet lag was definitely a realistic factor.

Amanda's first night at Iris's cottage, there's a knock at the door and she opens it to a very drunk, very good-looking man who turns out to be Iris's brother Graham (Jude Law). She decides a one-night stand with a perfect stranger would be a great way to get over her ex. Graham's drunk, but he's not an idiot, so he obliges. They're both a little more affected than they expected, and they reluctantly start a romance they know has no future.

Iris, meanwhile, answers the door to a couple: Miles (Jack Black), who's a friend of Amanda's ex, and his girlfriend. Iris and Miles get a romance, too, but it moves much more slowly, and is much more complicated. Iris's ex, Jasper, doesn't want to let her go despite the fact that he's marrying another woman--he calls and sends his manuscript for her to proofread, and tells her he can't do without her. The distance is helping, but keeping busy is better, and Iris manages that when she befriends one of Amanda's neighbors, an elderly screenwriter.

Unfortunately, more time was spent on Hollywood's idea of the prettier couple--Diaz and Law--despite the fact that their story was less complex. On the plus side, the movie was over two hours long (138 minutes), so neither story felt too rushed.

Discussing the movie afterward, we both felt that Iris and Miles's romance was more believable. They were both dealing with similar break-up issues, and because of the slower pace of their relationship, it was easier to see them becoming drawn to each other and appreciating each other's strengths. Iris's issues were extremely familiar to us in real life, so that likely had something to do with why we were more drawn to her story.

Amanda and Graham's romance seemed to be more simple chemistry, and while both characters were likeable and were dealing with issues that were solved by the relationship (Amanda keeps relationships on the surface, and Graham's got some emotional trauma and responsibility), it wasn't really clear that each was the specific person the other needed in their life.

I do have to say I appreciated the ending. Without spoiling it, I'll say that it was satisfying and hopeful without being too unbelievable.

If I tried, no doubt I could come up with a dozen or more quibbles, but it was such a cheerful movie that I'd rather not.


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I saw this just before New Years and thought it was a nice film. The only thing is I can't get around to the idea of Jack Black being a romantic lead type of character. It's something to do with his eyebrows!! The way they arch up or something!
I haven't seen this yet, but planning to. Maybe when it available in netflix. It is nice to see that Darla and Marg gave it a nice reviews.
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