The Holiday

Review Haiku

I’m back on my game

Even though Cameron Diaz

Makes this challenge hard

Rating: 1.5/5

And so we begin, again

People have been asking me for around two weeks now what happened to the RomCom Challenge. Well, friends, due to a combination of unforeseen circumstances and staunch laziness, I skimped on my daily duties with 13 movies remaining. These things happen. To err is human, to forgive, divine.

Today, I bring you a special entry. Special because the film I watched is in fact that film that started this challenge in the first place. Without the conversation spurred by the existence of The Holiday, your news feeds would be barren and your lives would probably be far less interesting.

A quick anecdote: I worked as the sports editor on my school’s newspaper and I occasionally chat with a group that I worked with. The following screencaps are bits from the conversation on the fateful afternoon of Sept. 15, when the RomCom Challenge came into being:

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 7.20.07 AM

Dylan asks a perfectly valid question, and Julian decides to voice his opinion. In Julian’s defense, Hans Zimmer is excellent – though there was nothing about the score that I could point to as exemplary.

Dylan, for some reason, “saw that turd in THEATERS.” Doing it for your girlfriend is admirable, but there’s only so far a man can go:

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 7.20.26 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 7.20.52 AM

I enter the fray:

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 7.21.10 AM

Max, in all his glory, enters the fray as well. His opinion of the film mirrors mine:

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 7.22.08 AM

There are so many things wrong with this:

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 9.12.55 AM

An amoebic idea forms, and Dylan decides to be unhelpful:

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 7.23.47 AM

The idea becomes more crystal-clear:

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 7.25.00 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 7.25.26 AM

Upon changing the name of the group chat (which, for those who asked this weekend, was nameless prior to the challenge), the idea now becomes official:

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 7.25.44 AM

I need a holiday from this movie

Julian Zeng, I am calling you out by name in this post: That The Holiday is one of your favorite movies is a troubling fact. Upon viewing it, I can only conclude that you find Cameron Diaz to be a formidable talent and you feel that vapid dialogue is engaging in some strange, masochistic way.

Here’s my tl;dr review, if you’re as uninterested in reading further as I was halfway through the film: This movie was stunning in its use of droll streams of words as a method of driving the gossamer-thin plot, a plot so inconsequential that literally nothing was at stake for even a second, save for whether or not the two leads would find love which, as any fool could see, was clearly in the cards from the moment this odd foursome set eyes on one another. If there’s a rom-com trope that comes to mind, this movie had it, complete with all the sappiness you’d expect from a star-laden cast, who seem to have nothing better to do than converge on a movie set and make millions phoning it in with a script that reads like a pretentious novel.

This movie suuuuuuucked.

I watched it with the aforementioned group of friends. Courtney pointed out that my opinions on The Holiday were possibly colored by the animated reactions from Dylan, who tossed and turned in obvious discomfort as the story trudged along. I respect this opinion, but I thoroughly disagree. If anything, the mere fact that I was caught nodding off about halfway through is a testament to how dull this exercise was. I didn’t even find How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days as insufferable as this movie, because that one at least had a plot with actual payoff.

A short paragraph about some good things

I’m a generous man, so I’ll take a break from thrashing the film and emphasize for a moment the positives. For one, The Holiday was undoubtedly a crowd-pleaser and it followed that formula well: there were few tears, many smiles, a few laughs, and general happiness from start to finish. In addition, the movie trailer voice-over that interspersed Cameron Diaz’s story was a very clever touch, something that tacked a half a point onto the rating all by itself, and something that could have made the movie much more watchable had the idea been explored further. All of the characters, save for Diaz – who, I confess, I just cannot handle – were likable and the overall tone of the movie inspired a Christmas-like feeling deep within me. There is fun to be had, and the holiday spirit is alive and well. For what it was, this wasn’t a bad film.

OK, back to the crap

What it was, though, wasn’t interesting, engaging, thought-provoking, innovative, or entertaining in any way, shape, or form. God, I cannot fathom what went through the director’s head when she ordered line upon superfluous line of drivel to spew from the gullets of Diaz and Jude Law, whose conversations went on and on and on without end and added an inappropriate amount of time to a project that could easily have retained its charm with 45 minutes chopped off of the run time.

Ultimately, The Holiday was the most disappointing movie I’ve watched in the challenge to date. The buildup from my friends, and the subsequent onset of the RomCom Challenge created an aura around the film that made me wonder if it really was a masterpiece. It was more like a mastered piece of generic cash-grabbing ugliness, in the end. Alas, the purported reputation of this movie is not unexpected, given that it was provided to me by someone who not only roots for the St. Louis Cardinals, but who also thinks that Legally Blonde is the greatest work of art ever put to screen.

Final thoughts

12 movies to go: I won’t be leaving you alone again. The next 12 days will happen, without any breaks. If I have a power outage, I will go to a goddamn Starbucks and leech the WiFi to watch my romcom. If my computer breaks, I will buy another one. I’m sticking to my guns.

Jude Law: I won’t deny it – Jude Law is sexy as fuck. It’s unfair. Cameron Diaz doesn’t deserve that.

Let’s talk quickly about how terrible Cameron Diaz is: I’m sure Mrs. Diaz is a very nice lady. She’s not nice to watch on screen. I don’t know if she even has a fit in any genre.

I haven’t yet seen a good performance from her so maybe I need to watch some more, but I am so very unimpressed with what I’ve seen. Kate Winslett, on the other hand, was much easier to handle in this film.

Sappiness Rating: sapsapsapsapsap/10

Conclusion

Dear God, this was disappointing. I wasn’t expecting a seminal masterwork, but I certainly was expecting more than what I got. Again, not an outright terrible movie, but about as uninspiring and dull as a romantic comedy could possibly be.

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