Capone Goes On A HOLIDAY That's A Bit Too Long & A Little Dull!!
Published at: Dec. 8, 2006, 1:11 p.m. CST by merrick
Hey, everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
Many, many women I know have been waiting months for this movie's release. And if the audience I saw this film with in any indication, women are going to flock to this overloaded and underwhelming half a decent movie. You see, The Holiday is actually two movies, connected by a pair of women who swap houses and find love in countries other than the ones they live in. Sound like much ado about nothing? That it is.
I happen to like writer-director Nancy Myers' recent efforts What Women Want and Something's Gotta Give. So sue me. So I was actually half looking forward to The Holiday, thanks in large part to its cast. The idea of Kate Winslet (my ideal fantasy woman) and Jack Black (my ideal fantasy man) as couple in a romantic comedy seemed intriguing. And while I was ambivalent about the pretty half of this equation (Jude Law teaming with Cameron Diaz), these are all great actors that Myers could probably have a lot of fun with. So what went wrong? Kate (a newspaper writer) and Cameron (a movie trailer editor) are in dead-end relationships (with Rufus Sewell and Ed Burns, respectively) and decide to swap homes for two weeks around the Christmas holiday. Both make this decision spontaneously, meet on the Internet, make the deal, and hop on planes the next day.
While in her quiet dwelling in the quiet English countryside, Diaz finds herself bored until Winslet's brother (Law) shows up unaware that his sister has taken off. Naturally the two end up spending the night drinking and having sex. Winslet's experience isn't quite as raucous, but she does meet a next door neighbor, played by Eli Wallach, and former top screenwriter, who now lives alone. The two become fast friends, and he even recommends a few classics to watch that he wrote. Jack Black (about as tame and toothless as I've ever seen him) arrives as a film score composer friend of Diaz's ex-boyfriend, who comes over to the house to pick up some things. He's dating a hot actress (Shannyn Sossamon), whom he believes must be crazy or blind to be going out with a schlub like him. But the attraction between he and Winslet is immediate and undeniable.
Here's what's wrong with The Holiday: Everybody is just a little too perfect. Even their faults and shortcomings are cute and perfect and hopelessly forgivable. The Diaz-Law storyline never drew me in, despite a few laughs. Diaz spends most of her scenes acting with a nervous giggle, as if that's supposed to make her seem vulnerable. Alright people let's get one god-damned thing straight: Cameron Diaz is one of the hottest hotties to ever be hot. She will never be convincing as someone who lacks confidence or is unsure of what she wants. In my mind, this entire storyline could have been sacrificed in an effort to throw all of the focus on the fare more interesting tale of Winslet and Black.
In its current state, this storyline also suffers by being classically underwritten and slightly dull. However, if the movie had just been about these two, then there might have been some hope. Winslet can pull off being desperate and pathetic, but not because she's any less hot than Diaz; she's just a better actress. This role is a slightly funnier take on her character from Little Children. She's supposed to be the plainer of the two female leads in both films, but we end up liking her far more. Her scenes with Black are sweet, a little underwhelming, but still nice. And it would have been exciting to see a film about the slow and nervous dance these two do with each other. The warm-and-fuzzy styling of Jack Black may be tough not to laugh at at first, but he grows on you with his sincerity. Of course a guy like Black would go loopy for a woman as cool as Winslet. Who wouldn't, I ask.
But as it stands (with a running time of 130 minutes-plus, I should add), The Holiday is mostly smoke with no fire. And Meyers playing it safe simply is no fun at all. We never doubt for a second how things will end up for our players, and that's never a good thing. Taking the surprise out of even the most lightweight of romantic comedies makes it a long-ass waiting game toward the hopelessly inevitable conclusion; in this case, two inevitable conclusions. This one was a sad, if not shocking, disappointment.