What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this holiday-themed chick flick will probably appeal to older tween and teen girls, who could get mixed messages from some of the characters' behavior. Several scenes focus on drinking and drunkenness; two of them lead to sexual encounters. This unsafe behavior is presented as cute comedy. Plus, a single father suggests that he sometimes gets drunk to "compartmentalize" his life and deal with his sadness over his lost wife and the pressures of being a fulltime dad. Characters frequently get emotional. A woman punches her cheating boyfriend so hard that he falls to the ground. A couple of "f--k"s and other minor language.
What's the story?
Trying to forget a romance gone wrong, London-based journalist Iris (Kate Winslet) trades her cottage for movie-trailer-editor Amanda's (Cameron Diaz) Beverly Hills mansion. Amanda is also angry at an ex-boyfriend. Book editor Graham (Jude Law) shows up drunk on the English cottage porch, expecting to be put up by his sister (Iris). He winds up having sex with lonely, angry, and perfectly witty Amanda instead. In L.A., Iris is charmed by her retired screenwriter neighbor (Eli Wallach), but soon finds her age-appropriate mate in composer Miles (Jack Black), who's grappling with his own relationship troubles, but seems instantly attracted to Iris as well.
Is it any good?
Seasonal and sweet, THE HOLIDAY offers precious few surprises. Like almost every romantic comedy, it introduces the to-be-coupled characters, sets a couple of emotional obstacles in their paths, until at last -- 138 minutes later -- they realize what you've known all along.
While Black is plainly still too much in love with himself, he does bring a welcome energy to his role. Writer-director Nancy Meyers has developed a kind of shtick in which beautiful, wealthy, well-dressed characters articulate recognizable but abstract clichéd "issues" as substitutes for more compelling details or developments. Since such issues are easily fixed (or deflected) by the proper partner in movies, the plots tend to just go through the motions. The movie's one surprise may be that by the end, even Winslet, so consistently lovely and frankly brilliant, looks as stifled as Iris.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about the idea of swapping houses, lives, or situations, which is increasingly popular in the age of reality TV and the Internet. Who would you want to switch with? Where might you like to spend two weeks? Do you think it would turn out at all like the movie? What are the risks of swaps like this?