The Holiday

Nancy Myers confirms her reputation as queen of the chick flick with this formulaic romantic comedy about neurotic women who learn they must find themselves before they can attract Mr. Right. The formula works only because the elements — particularly the chemistry between Cameron Diaz and Jude Law — are just right. Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet) is the...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Nancy Myers confirms her reputation as queen of the chick flick with this formulaic romantic comedy about neurotic women who learn they must find themselves before they can attract Mr. Right. The formula works only because the elements — particularly the chemistry between Cameron Diaz and Jude Law — are just right. Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet) is the wedding correspondent for London's "Daily Telegraph"; she knows all about love but turned herself into a doormat for the exclusive use of rougish reporter Justin (Rufus Sewell). Their fling ended three years ago, when she learned he was also sleeping with Sarah in circulation, but even though Iris called it off, she's still desperately in love with the bounder. Meanwhile in L.A., kooky, emotionally defective Amanda Woods (Diaz) has made her fortune by running her own movie-trailer production company, but has rotten luck with guys. Her latest ex (Ed Burns) accuses Amanda of being an emotional control freak, and he might be right; she hasn't cried since her parents split up when she was 15. With Christmas approaching, Amanda doesn't want to be home alone, so she does an online search for a getaway that will allow her to emotionally regroup. Amanda thinks she's found the perfect spot when she clicks on a photo of Iris' cozy Surrey cottage on an international house-exchange site. Iris is equally eager to get away for a while — Justin has just announced his engagement to Sarah — and within 24 hours, each woman is on a plane bound for the other's home. Iris is thrilled with Amanda's palatial, Spanish-style villa — complete with swimming pool and massive DVD collection — but after six hours in cozy Rosehill Cottage, Amanda feels more isolated and alone than ever. She books a flight home but reconsiders when, late that first night, Iris' dashing brother, book editor Graham (Law), shows up on her doorstep, drunk and requesting a bed for the night. Amanda does Graham one better and impulsively has sex with him, and though wary of romantic complications, he decides to stick around. Back in L.A., Iris befriends Miles (Jack Black), a soundtrack composer in a romantic situation similar to her own, as well as Amanda's next-door neighbor, the legendary screenwriter Arthur Abbott (Eli Wallach), who reportedly stuck the "kid" onto "Here's looking at you." Arthur can't believe a woman as smart and pretty as Iris could have such a pathetic love life, and recommends a steady diet of Irene Dunne and Barbara Stanwyck movies in hopes that a little of their gumption will rub off on her. Poor Iris' story is more of a commentary on the Surrey romance than a plot in its own right: From Harry's disquisitions on the "meet cute" and romantic-comedy heroines to Mile's enthusiastic survey of motion-picture scores — including the music of Hans Zimmer, who overscored the film at hand — Myers lays bare the already obvious mechanics of her plot. Admitting that it's formulaic doesn't make it any less so, but it's enjoyable in a mushy, easily digested sort of way. And Myers certainly earns her reputation here: Endangered husbands and boyfriends will probably want to chain themselves to the nearest immovable object for the duration of the film's theatrical run.

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  • Released: 2006
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Nancy Myers confirms her reputation as queen of the chick flick with this formulaic romantic comedy about neurotic women who learn they must find themselves before they can attract Mr. Right. The formula works only because the elements — particularly the c… (more)

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