The latest from director Nancy Meyers ("Something's Gotta Give") once again comes in at a length that's unnecessary for the material, something I've felt about every one of the director's films. While "The Holiday" is a bit more enjoyable, this is again a 100 minute movie with about half hour of flab.
The movie focuses on two different women - a British editor, Iris (Kate Winslet) and an American named Amanda (Cameron Diaz) who edits movie trailers. Iris is looking for a change of place and pace after finding out that the guy she's had a crush on for a while (Rufus Sewell) is getting married to someone else. Amanda has just broken up with her boyfriend (Diaz's "She's the One" co-star and director Ed Burns, whose paycheck for this minor part will probably allow him to direct 10 more indie features), who's been cheating on her.
Thanks to a home exchange program (I'm surprised that there isn't a service like this), the two women switch houses - Iris gets to live in Amanda's huge Hollywood home while Amanda gets to try out the cottage that Iris calls home. The next day, the two women find themselves in new digs - Iris is shocked at Amanda's mansion, while Amanda tries to work her way around the much smaller (but still cute) cottage.
It doesn't take long for either to find new romance, as Amanda meets Iris's brother, Graham (Jude Law, in what's probably his most casual and restrained performance) and falls for him. Meanwhile, Iris finds herself attracted to composer Miles (Jack Black), who's already taken by Maggie (Shannon Sossamon.) The rest of the movie explores the adventures that the two have away from home.
"The Holiday" has a few positives, but several flaws. Again, every one of the director's films have been excessively long for the material, and this one's absolutely no different. 136 minutes is just too much for this, and one can literally pick out moments (such as the little "trailer thoughts" that Amanda has, which tell the audience what they're already aware of) that could have been dropped. This is pretty predictable fare to begin with, so at over two hours, the movie starts to wander instead of getting to the point.
The film's other issue are the performances. While the director's "Something's Gotta Give" coasted on the performances of Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, "Holiday" isn't able to get by on all its star power. Kate Winslet's the best thing about the picture, as her personality shines through nicely and, despite the fact that she's playing an attractive woman who can't get a date, she still remains quite engaging and sympathetic. Eli Wallach is also very good in a small role. Law isn't bad, although the performance doesn't ask much of him. Diaz is the worst of the four, remaining bland throughout. Sadly, Winslet's story is given less focus than the Diaz half. Aside from one brilliantly Jack Black-ian moment in a video store, even Black appears rather subdued here, which is too bad, as he could have given the movie a bit of extremely needed edge.
There's some sweet moments here (especially towards the end) and I liked a couple of the performances (although no one gives their career best here), but a much tighter movie would have certainly made this an easier "Holiday" to sit through.
VIDEO: "The Holiday" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Video in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. While certainly not a total loss, this is one of the more unpleasant transfers of a major release in recent memory. Sharpness and detail are average at best, as the picture looked consistently soft and occasionally a tad murky, with iffy detail. The movie as a whole also looked a touch dark.
Some minor artifacting was noticed, light grain was occasionally seen and some instances of edge enhancement were spotted. Colors didn't look so hot, either, appearing a bit smeary at times. Flesh tones could also appear slightly off, as well.
SOUND: "The Holiday" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. As one might expect from a movie like this, this is an entirely dialogue-driven flick, with very minimal surround use. Audio quality is fine, with clear dialogue and music.
EXTRAS: A commentary from director Nancy Meyers, production designer John Hutman, composer Hans Zimmer, and editor Joe Hutshing, previews for other titles from the studio and "Foreign Exchange", an 18-minute "making of".
Final Thoughts: "The Holiday" is just okay; it offers some sweet moments (especially towards the end) and I liked a couple of the performances (although no one gives their career best here), but a much tighter movie would have certainly made this an easier "Holiday" to sit through. The DVD boasts average video quality, decent audio and a couple of nice supplements. Rent it.
The Film C+