Hot off the box office smash of her previous film Something’s Gotta Give, writer/director Nancy Meyers had her own very large shoes to fill with this holiday romantic comedy follow-up, which like Love Actually, sets out to be an ultimate romantic comedy with picturesque locales and a top notch cast. Writing specifically with the actors in mind, Meyers tailor-made four unique roles for Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black and Jude Law respectively as career professionals in need of new romance. London based publishing workaholic Iris (Winslet) and her hardworking American counterpart Amanda (Diaz) both find themselves spurned in love by unfaithful men and decide to swap their L.A. and Surrey, England homes for two weeks in order to get a new lease on life and away from the men who broke their hearts. This likable escapist fantasy of jetting off to a beautiful new setting where one can learn more about themselves, find new friends and realize their own strength is bound to appeal to female viewers, although predictably Meyers throws in some romantic entanglements for good measure. Jack Black is energetic and hilarious as the Ennio Morricone worshipping film composer who strikes up an instant friendship and flirtation with Iris and Meyers (who was a fan of School of Rock) knows how to channel his talents well and their scenes together are adorable and help make the American story more entertaining than the British one, although Diaz tries her best. Diaz is excellent and bubbly in her early scenes which are fairly solitary but her plot is bogged down slightly with the arrival of the usually wonderful Jude Law who doesn’t seem terribly convincing as Iris’s brother who lands on Diaz’s doorstep one evening and they share a drunken night of passion that results in a romantic novel-type courtship, not nearly as creative as the American one. Added to Iris’s storyline is the delightful inclusion of Eli Wallach as a former Academy Award winning screenwriter who, now elderly and alone, becomes Iris’s very first American friend and their touching relationship helps give the film its heart and will enchant film buffs everywhere as he introduces her to the pleasures of classic screwball comedy actresses like Irene Dunne and films like The Lady Eve. While it isn’t in the same league as Love Actually and it does run about twenty minutes too long (a flaw similar to the delightful but overly long Something’s Gotta Give), The Holiday is amusing winter romantic comedy fare that fans of witty writing as well as the actors are sure to enjoy.
Songs Featured in The Holiday