Sunday, February 11, 2007

THE HOLIDAY MOVIE REVIEW















CAST: KATE WINSLET, JUDE LAW, CAMERON DIAZ, JACK BLACK, ELI WALLACH
DIRECTOR: NANCY MEYERS
RUNTIME: 138 min
RATING: **
GENRE: ROMANCE, COMEDY, HOLIDAY

I wish somebody burn that template for making romantic movies. That template supposedly has how one should act in a romantic comedy, how one should direct them so that they turn out all sugary sweet.
I mean, is there a hard and fast rule to act thus. What was Cameron Diaz doing looking all silly? Was it all supposed to be funny, because if that is the case, believe me it was more irritating that funny. This is my second movie in two days after the appalling DÉJÀ VU and THE HOLIDAY might as well have been titled DÉJÀ VU PART DEUX. There isn’t anything remotely, and I reiterate, remotely original here. There are some stupid attempts at making twists and turns here that would only surprise you if you have just visited Planet Earth and this is your first movie or you have short term memory loss in which case you wouldn’t care unless you scribble notes.
WHEN HARRY MET SALLY had a sequence in a DVD store where Billy Crystal is hamming the various movies. There’s an exact replica of a scene here, even ending the same way, only not even remotely funny. There’re host of other sequences in this movie which you would surely have seen before, sequences like a guy standing with his door half closed glancing back occasionally as the girl who has unexpectedly turned at his doorstep is sharing her innermost feelings. This and much more are at abundance.
Lou Lumenick from the NY Post has so aptly said that complaining about THE HOLIDAY is as useless as railing against fruitcake. This is a mindless, corny movie that I wouldn’t recommend even to my female enemies.
THE HOLIDAY is about Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet), a journalist in London, who is a die hard love addict and is madly in love with a colleague of hers, although he seems to have dumped her to marry someone else. She is distraught when she comes across an invitation from movie trailer maker Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz) who is based in Los Angeles to swap houses for the holiday season. Winslet meets Black and Diaz meets Winslet’s brother Law and romance starts sprouting in the air. There’s some meaningless angle of a recluse screenwriter Arthur Abbott (Eli Wallach) and him being felicitated at the Writer’s Guild Awards.
What was Kate Winslet doing here by the way? This is her first mainstream role after TITANIC and I can’t see any reason behind such an awful choice. Do not get under the impression that she is bad here. Kate Winslet is as fantastic as always. She is great and her greatness is on full display here. In fact, she’s the only reason why I have given 2 stars to this movie, she and a bit of Wallach. There’s absolutely nothing else to watch out for here.
Cameron Diaz has proven yet again that she knows as much about acting as Ed Wood, the man notoriously regarded as the worst director ever knew about direction. Her antics right at the start would make you want to punch her in the face, believe me, she’s that bad. And what’s more, she’s the central character. Diaz is horribly miscast, I mean she’s miscast in most movies where acting is a prerequisite.
Jude Law is at best average. He’s likeable in places but that would have more to do with his appearance and less to do with his performance.
The biggest miscast of all is Jack Black. What made anybody think that this guy can be a romantic lead and that too against a beauty like Kate Winslet? He is the single biggest weakness of THE HOLIDAY. Him making faces looks good in movies like THE SCHOOL OF ROCK but here, in a movie for grown ups, he looks as silly and stupid as Cameron Diaz. Black doesn’t have it in him to play serious characters and his weird faces put us off rather than entertain us.
There are numerous directorial and screenwriting elements that aren’t anyway far from problem here. First is the length. At 138 minutes, THE HOLIDAY feels like a big yawn. There would be a million sequences which make no sense at all, in fact, they put you off. In fact the story structure itself is a big flaw. Two love stories at the price of one is more loss than profit for the viewer. When we remotely feel any of the love stories, it immediately snaps to the other one and vice versa leaving us distraught. An hour into the swapping, I indulged in appreciating the beauty of Winslet rather than boring myself to death in a plot that contained nothing out of the corny and clichéd.
Second, I have no idea what was Eli Wallach’s angle there in the movie for. I mean, he’s quite good and in fact his chemistry with Winslet is better than the one between her and Black. But his angle is needless.
THE HOLIDAY tries to be funny by referencing to movies of the past but all that comes as terribly forced.
Director Nancy Meyers’ previous movie SOMETHING GOTTA GIVE, although a huge success had its share of problems with its sitcom like screenplay. It was veterans Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton who saved the movie and in fact made it work and more than watchable. Same for WHAT WOMEN WANT and actors of the caliber of Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. In fact, Gibson was so good that WHAT WOMEN WANT was a huge success. And frankly, the screenplay was better and far more intelligent. But here she has no actor of that caliber except for Kate Winslet and that is when the movie is at its strongest. Unfortunately, Winslet has a smaller screen time than I would have liked and other pathetic actors fill up the screen with their nonsense.
THE HOLIDAY would be engaging if this was your first romantic movie ever. Else, please refrain, unless you’re a Winslet fan in which case I would recommend it to wait for it come on TV.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think the review was cynical. It is not all that bad. Could be clichéd at places, but otherwise calling it not funny would be presumptuous. Parts of it were really well directed. I recommend people to watch it though can’t be compared to the likes of Blood diamond.

Rupesh Malladi