2006-12-22 / Columnists

MovieScope

Review By Robert Snyder


Not many filmmakers do crying better than Nancy Meyers.

The writer/director/co-producer had Diane Keaton’s playwright character cry the actress to a fourth  Oscar nomination  in 2003’s  “Something’s Gotta Give.” And, boy, did she cry... a lot and long, motivating her to compose a hit Broadway comedy.

For her recently-released film, “The Holiday,” Meyers has a running gag about crying. American movie trailer maker Amanda (Cameron Diaz) can’t cry, though she can and does punch unfaithful live-in boyfriend Ethan (Edward Burns) in the nose, twice. British journalist Iris (Kate Winslet) cries all the time, especially when unrequited love object, Jasper (Rufus Seawell), cheats on her…even secretly planning an engagement to another.

However, Graham (Jude Law) is an admitted chronic weeper. He’s the brother of Iris, often sleeping on the couch in her cozy cottage in Surrey, England. One night, he “meets cute” with Amanda, who’s there because she exchanged homes for the Christmas holiday with Iris, both women sharing the need to escape boyfriend problems. Now living in the ultra modern Los Angeles estate of the trailer maker, Iris learns about the concept of  “meeting cute” from legendary, but aging screenwriter Arthur (scene stealer Eli Wallach), a neighbor of Amanda’s LA palace.

Conceptually complex, “The Holiday” is not Meyer’s best movie. Part of the problem is that Diaz in the role usually reserved for the now-too-old Keaton tries very hard to be funny, but misses succeeding as her successor did. Her best moment is at the end when she finally gets the waterworks running. Winslet acts up a hurricane, but also is no comedian. Her big scene is her eventual liberation from Jasper... cathartic, yet not comic. Law is smooth, slick and sexy. The only real comedian, Jack Black, as Iris’s American love interest, Miles, is so restrained that his renowned wildness seems confined to a straightjacket.

A bit long, “The Holiday” is nonetheless fine film fluff for the, well, holidays. But those expecting “Something’s Gotta Give” greatness may find themselves reduced to tears of disappointment.

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