Ring in the holiday season and the new year with the best rom-com since 2003’s Love Actually. It seems writer-director Nancy Meyers really knows what it takes to make a successful romantic comedy and while Something’s Gotta Give was a good film it wasn’t great… The Holiday is on the verge of being great.
The film tells the story of two down on their luck girls when it comes to love, one lives in California (Diaz), the other in England (Winslet). Following a chance meeting on the Internet these two girls decide to swap houses and continents in an effort to escape their current lives for something different. Many will call this movie hopelessly romantic and find the situations to be unrealistic, including the characters in the film. Granted, love is in no way perfect, and that is touched upon here, but where The Holiday finds its charm is when it deviates from conventional romantic comedy storytelling and begins to explore the characters.
The Holiday is essentially two stories tied together using the house swapping thread and mutual friends to tie together the two, and typically in this kind of a film you start with the sad and melancholy lead, they get happy, they screw up and find a way to fix it. Instead of that noise Nancy Meyers takes the typical conventions and stretches them a bit further than normal. Why do they have to be happy and then be sad only to be happy again? Sometimes the great guy doesn’t have a bet with his friends and the great girl doesn’t happen to be writing an article for a major women’s magazine. Sometimes people just fall in love and sometimes not right away. What’s wrong with that?
Personally I enjoy romantic comedies, as long as they are done well. Sure, The Holiday runs a bit long, but there are so many positives you are willing to push aside a few faux pas. For example, this is quite possibly the best role Jude Law has ever turned in, we all knew he had it in him, but along with Kate Winslet these two are touching new ground. Speaking of new ground, we also have Jack Black, whose performance is less than stellar, but he doesn’t muck it up. Perhaps the most tedious of the bunch is rom-com veteran Cameron Diaz whose welcome in the world of films is slowly wearing thin for my taste. She is fine in this film, but I could have done with a Kate Hudson or even a Jennifer Aniston in her place.
If you are one of those people that have a hard time finding enjoyment in a fun and good natured film then, please, do skip The Holiday you’ll ruin it for others. The rest of you, settle in for a good time in the theater with a film that slightly bends convention and gives you a bit more than the typical romantic comedy.