The Holiday is often thought of as one of the best Christmas movies – fitting in with the likes of Home Alone, Elf, and Miracle On 34th Street – and just an all-round bubble of happiness.
Well, Im here to burst that bubble and tell you all that its neither.
Yes, seriously, the Holiday is actually a terrible movie, and more shocking than that, it actually has nothing to do with the festive period.
If youre not familiar with the film, Cameron Diaz plays a movie trailer producer in LA, who dumps her cheating boyfriend and wants to trade places with Kate Winslet, a wedding columnist for a newspaper who has a little cottage in Surrey – and who coincidentally wants to get away from her ex who has just announced his engagement.
As the title suggests, its about a holiday. Well two holidays to be specific. Non-time specific trips that could happen at any time of the year. Jasper could have got engaged in spring, or Ethan could have been unfaithful in the dead of summer, and it wouldnt have made a blind bit of difference to the overall terrible plot.
Barring a few scenes in the film, mostly involving Amanda slipping in the snow while trudging up to Iris cottage, the entire thing could have been set at any time. They barely even mention Christmas or New Year until the very end, when Jack Black magically remembers he needs to make some plans so invites himself to Surrey and crashes whatever Iris has going on. Fair play, it was filmed in 2006 so no one had been added to – and then passively aggressively removed from – a dedicated NYE PLANZ 2K18 Whatsapp group, but to go two hours into a Christmas film without barely mentioning it, save for Jasper creepily popping up in LA with some naughty underwear? Come on!
Love Actually is also a terrible festive film but at least there was a countdown and discussions on Christmas gifts. Though the less said about that Joni Mitchell CD, the better.
Also, while were on it, can we just discuss the fact that Iris is actually an awful character? She gets dumped by Jasper after finding out hes cheating on her, to then continually email him and speak to him on the phone when his new girlfriend isnt in the room. She buys him a first edition book for Christmas, doesnt furiously take it back when he announces his engagement thirty seconds later, and then continues to take his calls. After a little bit of wallowing in her PJs, Iris attempts to sniff some gas from her hob while making some tea, before Cameron Diaz miraculously pops up and asks to switch houses.
Youd think getting out of the cold and flying halfway around the world to LA would sort her out, but Iris then agrees to read pages from Jaspers book while he parties at Soho house – presumably with his fiancée. What are you doing hun? It takes going to dinner with a random old man she bumps into in the street – who is probably the saving grace of the whole film – to give her some self worth. But that flies out the window when Jasper pops up at her door with a grand romantic gesture – and the aforementioned naughty underwear – and she pours him a glass of wine.
Honestly, why waste good wine?!
Another bugbear is the fact these characters seem to fall in and out of love so damn quickly. In the time it took for Iris to have a long sleep and get over her jetlag, Amanda has met, slept with and promised not to fall in love with her brother, Graham – aka Jude Law. Thats all fine, but then she does nothing but harp on about how much she likes him, how deeply she feels for him, the fact that she is panicking about leaving him in nine days. This woman has nine days left of a two week holiday and is panicking. If you think about it, she has been travelling for one day, spent a day acquainting herself with the cottage and doing a boozy supermarket run, which gives her around two-and-a-half days with Jude Law. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Jude, hes great. But two and a half days and shes already pretty much head over heels? And hes the exact same, telling her, from the moment I met you it has been an adventure. What is in the water in Surrey? And where has the adventure been exactly? Because these two have barely left the damn cottage.
It crosses back over to Iris, who is living her best life in LA with her new best friend, famous screenwriter Arthur Abbott. Because of course Amandas neighbour is a Hollywood screenwriter… By living her best life we mean shes opening Arthurs mail, giving him water aerobics classes, helping him run errands. Shes basically his PA disguised as a friend, and all of this – again – after just a few days. It has taken us longer to decide whether to swipe for someone on Tinder than anyone in this film forging lifelong bonds.
The one relationship in the film that seemed to take time and form into something sweet was Iris and Miles, played by Jack Black, who was Amandas cheating ex-boyfriends best friend, who then got cheated on himself. They seemed to hit it off and become really good friends, comforting each other during tough moments and running errands with Arthur – who seems to have got the best deal out of the whole thing. But then that is snatched out from under us when they start kissing during Arthurs big speech, and decide to spend New Years Eve together. What ever happened to taking things slow?!
Also, and this is more of a side note really, at the end of the film when everyone is reunited and spending the evening together, everything seems pretty civil between Amanda and Miles, aka Amanda and her cheating exs best friend. There is not a raised voice or spilled drink in sight, and in fact they hug and dance, and after watching years of Towie, we know thats definitely not how it would have played out…
Were all for a little artistic license, especially at Christmas – aka Kevin McCallisters entire family literally going on holiday and forgetting him at home by himself – but this honestly takes the mince pie.
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