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The Holiday

House Exchange…the Panacea for the Hopeless Romantic

Tis the season for those in bad relationships (or those yearning for a relationship) to seek romantic inspiration. Aptly timed is the release of Nancy Meyer’s The Holiday. The tourism industry owes Meyers a debt of gratitude as The Holiday will doubtless act as a catalyst for countless, hopeless romantics to seek out a holiday house swap in hopes of finding their soulmate in another city, state, or country.

The setup involves two women, Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and Iris (Kate Winslet), who are both in dire need of a change of scenery due to their respective challenges with the opposite sex. Amanda’s been cheated on and Iris is being victimized by a callous mind-fucker.

It’s the holiday season and both find themselves feeling hopelessly alone and craving a "holiday" from their challenging circumstances. Enter the house exchange. In short order, Iris flies across the country to squat in Iris’ beautiful L.A. home and Amanda makes the trek to the U.K. to stay at an isolated, but charming cottage.

Naturally, Amanda and Iris end up finding a couple of new men to spark their romantic hopes. The apple of Amanda’s eye just so happens to be Iris’ dashing brother, Graham (Jude Law). Whereas, Iris finds herself drawn to film music composer, Miles (Jack Black). The above description while not giving too much away, probably gives you everything you need to know about exactly where The Holiday is headed.

Despite the contrived story, you would hope that given the pretty solid cast, you’d get some good performances. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case. Jude Law does a serviceable job as a dashing, charming version of himself that he plays in virtually all of his films.

His counterpart, Jack Black, performs at a comparable level as the decidedly un-manic, Miles. Black typically does not excel in understated roles such as this (Shallow Hal, anyone?) and it seems odd to cast Black as a romantic lead. He just seems overly earnest most of the time.

Kate Winslet’s Iris is charming enough, but seemingly pathetic. She allows herself time and again to be manipulated by the morally and ethically bankrupt Jasper (Rufus Sewell) who has her wrapped tightly around his finger. Her low self-esteem and susceptibility to Jasper’s manipulations makes it tough to like her.

Cameron Diaz is perhaps the worst of the four as the workaholic diva, Amanda. Yes…she’s cute, but really she comes across as obnoxious and pretty self-absorbed. Amanda is decidedly the least rootable character in the film. Which raises the question why anyone (let alone Jude Law) would tumble for her?

What we’re left with is a less than run of the mill romantic comedy with scant few laughs and a plot that makes it nigh on impossible to suspend disbelief. It’s not as painful as 2005’s abominable Must Love Dogs, but it’s not much better either. You’ll likely need a holiday yourself after sitting through this one.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars