Wednesday, December 15, 2021

House Swap

The Holiday
Director: Nancy Meyers
Cast: Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Jack Black, Rufus Sewell, Eli Wallach, Edward Burns
Released: December 8, 2006
Viewed in theaters: December 13, 2006

I saw this in the theaters when it first came out and remembered absolutely nothing about it except that Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz swap houses over the Christas holiday. After watching it again on Hulu, I understand why I didn't retain anything about this movie: it is very forgettable and bland and ho-hum and average and milquetoast. I'm really selling you on this movie, aren't I? It's technically a Christmas movie - it's set around and during Christmas, there's a couple Christmas songs sprinkled throughout, there are Christmas decorations, it's called The Holiday, for God's sake, but to me, it just doesn't feel like a Christmas movie. I think this is because half the movie takes place in L.A. where it's sunny and I just can't get behind Christmas movies where it's hot and people are swimming at the beach or in their outdoor pool. Call me a traditionalist, but I need snow and people wearing sweaters and mittens and scarves in my Christmas movies! At least during the scenes set in England, it felt more Christmas-y.

Apparently I'm not the only one who didn't think this was a great Christmas movie (well, I didn't think it was a great movie, period). I was looking at the awards it was nominated for in the IMDB and it got the lovely honor of being nominated for "Worst Christmas film" (I love that that's a category) for The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards (which I have never heard of). You think I am joking, but this is actually a thing it was nominated for. The other films nominated for "Worst Christmas film" in 2006 were The Santa Clause 3, Unaccompanied Minors, Deck the Halls (which I've never seen), and Black Christmas (which I've never heard of, but it's a horror movie and I don't like horror movies). If you really care, Unaccompanied Minors won this prestigious award and while I don't think it's destined to be a Christmas classic, I will say that I think it is better than The Santa Clause 3 and this may be a hot take, but if somebody presented me with The Holiday or Unaccompanied Minors to watch during the Christmas season, I would pick the latter. Let's hope that never happens or I would question this person's taste in Christmas movies. 

Kate Winslet plays Iris who lives in Surrey and writes a column for The Daily Telegram. She is unhealthily in love with her ex, Jasper (Rufus Sewell). Even though they are no longer dating, he keeps putting the moves on her, making her think she still has a chance with him, even though he has a girlfriend now. He also works with her and at a Christmas party, he announces he's getting married to his girlfriend, which guts Iris. 

Cameron Diaz plays Amanda who lives in L.A. where she owns her own business putting together movie trailers and apparently makes "the big bucks" for it. Um, do people really make that much money for putting together movie trailers? People on YouTube do it all the time and I doubt any of them live in gated houses with a home theater and swimming pool. Just saying. I guess owning the business helps her pay the bills. We see John Krasinki in one scene as one of her employers and we see a trailer she's cut for a movie that looks absolutely terrible. Lindsay Lohan and James Franco play themselves, starring in this fake action movie called Deception. Nancy Meyers directed Lindsay in The Parent Trap remake, so that's probably how she got her to make a cameo in this. After watching it, Amanda says how it "finally looks like a hit!" which made me laugh since it clearly looked terrible and if she thought it looked like a hit now, how did it look before? 

She has a live-in boyfriend (whose name I don't remember and I don't care, but he's played by Edward Burns) who also works in the movie business. She accuses him of sleeping with his secretary (which he admit to); he accuses her of being emotionless and never crying and they break up. 

Amanda tells her employees she needs to take a vacation because she's getting too stressed and she read somewhere that stress ages women. She also talks about the bulls*t statistic where women over the age of 35 are more likely to die in a terrorist attack than get married which I remember was something that was brought up in Sleepless in Seattle but I thought that "statistic" was disproved. Also, in that movie, they say it's women over 40, so I guess with each decade, the age gets younger. This movie is pretty much telling you if you're a woman who is a certain age and don't have a man in your life, you may as well kill yourself. You think I am joking, but there is a scene where Iris thinks about killing herself! She turns the gas on her stove and blows out the flame, breathing in the toxic fumes, only coming to her senses and exclaiming "What am I doing?" when she hears her laptop chime and turns off the gas and runs to open up a window to breathe in fresh air. Both these women are young with great careers and envious homes and pretty much have it made, but since they can't hold a relationship they're pretty much deemed worthless. I hate this movie! 

Amanda decides she needs to get away from it all and clicks on a link called "Vacation Rentals", which pretty much what Airbnb or Vrbo is today. She's supposed to pick a country and picks England because she wants to go somewhere where they speak English. Um, why not just go to the East Coast? America is a big country, why not spend Christmas on the other side of the nation? Of course, Iris's charming cottage in Surrey is the second house she clicks on and decides it's perfect for her. WTF? If I were making a major decision on where to go for a Christmas holiday, I would look around a little more at my options. When Amanda sends Iris a message inquiring her about the house, that's when Iris's computer chimes when she's breathing in the toxic fumes. Also, what's the deal with this "website"? Shouldn't there be an availability calendar for the days Amanda is interested in staying there? The whole thing feels very impromptu. (Oh, you have no idea!) Iris replies back, telling her the cottage is only available for home exchange which means they "switch houses, cars, everything." Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold the phone. I understand Iris can't be staying in her house the same time Amanda is there because that would be weird, but if you were Amanda, would you just let some stranger stay in your house? Her house, as far as I know, isn't even listed on this website. Also, are these house swaps a thing? What if someone wants to stay in a fabulous beach house, but you live in some shack in Nowhere, USA, so that person gets stuck staying in your dump? What I'm trying to say is that not all homes are created equal. Well, luckily both Amanda and Iris have fabulous homes. (Of course they do, they're in a Nancy Meyers movie). They're chatting and introducing themselves to each other, giving the basic niceties about themselves. Amanda asks Iris if there are any men in her town. Now that's a stupid question; of course there are men in Surrey. But Iris seems to sense the answer Amanda is looking for and tells her "Zero". Amanda quickly replies back with, "When can I come?" and Iris asks her, "Is tomorrow too soon?" YES! Yes, it is! I need to pack! I need to make sure I have a freakin' passport! I need to make sure I can book a flight by tomorrow! I probably need to buy some WINTER clothes since I live in freakin' L.A. and most likely don't own a winter coat or hat or gloves or snowboots! I need to touch base with my employees first! I need to CLEAN my house and make a list of everything you should know when you're staying there!  Oh, no, but Amanda tells her "tomorrow is perfect." WTF? That scene made me so anxious. I hate this movie!

So starting tomorrow they will be spending two weeks in each other's homes. When Amanda takes a cab from the airport to the cottage in Surrey, the driver tells her he has to drop her off at a certain point because there's no way he'll be able to turn around if he drops her off directly in front of the house, so Amanda has to walk about a mile down a snowy road with her luggage. She is wearing stilettos and keeps slipping on the snow. That means she was wearing stilettos on a ten hour flight. WHY? Why not just wear regular, comfortable shoes for your flight and pack your stilettos. Also, why do you need stilettos? The whole point of this trip for her is just to relax in a cozy cottage and do a lot of reading. And she needs stilettos for this because....?  God, she is so high-maintence. What does Jude Law see in her? Oh, I'm getting ahead of myself, aren't I? She passes a couple on her way to the house and asks them if she's going in the right direction and both of them are wearing boots, like normal people who would be walking in snow. 

I must say the cottage is absolutely adorable and even though it is smaller than Amanda's L.A. home, it had to cost a pretty penny. Apparently, Iris forgot to mention to Amanda she has a dog. Also, apparently Iris didn't even tell her own brother she would be in another country for two weeks and failed to tell him a stranger would be staying at her house. We find this out when there's a loud banging at the door at one in the morning, startling Amanda. OMG, this would scare the crap out of me! She's sort of isolated in her little cottage, so only an axe murderer could be banging at her door. Luckily, it's just Iris's brother, Graham (Jude Law). He tells Amanda when he goes to the local pub, Iris puts him up for the night so he doesn't drive home. Not sure where he lives...why not just visit a bar closer to his home? 

Once Amanda explains about the house swap, he asks her how he's enjoying her stay and she tells him it's not so great and that she's leaving tomorrow...and she's only been there six hours! WTF? Okay, so she didn't have a good experience walking to the cottage in her stilettos, but she only has herself to blame for that, and she had trouble driving Iris's tiny car when she went into town to buy wine and other groceries (btw, what is it with Cammi D driving like a maniac in her movies?) But she's just going to fly back to L.A. not even after being in England for a day? Is she just going to stay in her house while Iris is there or make Iris leave? It was her IDEA to get away in the first place! Once we get the olbigatory they tell each other they're both single out of the way, Amanda tells him she just broke up with her boyfriend the other day, and came here to not feel alone, but feels more alone than ever. This leads to them kissing and then she suggests they have sex since she'll be leaving tomorrow and will never see him again anyway. Of course, since she looks like Cameron Diaz, she can say this without sounding like a complete loon.

So they sleep together and the next morning, Graham tells her if her flight is cancelled or if she changes her mind and decides to stay, he'll be having dinner with his friends at the pub that night. As he's getting ready to leave, his cellphone rings and for some reason (oh let's face it, for the plot's sake), Amanda picks it up and sees it's someone named Sophie calling him. He doesn't answer it, saying he'll call her back. Ooh, who could this mysterious Sophie be?

Also, Graham is wearing glasses because he tells Amanda he lost his contacts. I must say Jude Law in glasses is the best part of this movie. Sadly, beside this scene, we only see him wear glasses in another quick shot of him in a montage. I've included a photo so you, too, can admire him in glasses. 

So later we see Graham at the pub greeting his friends and when he sits down he looks up and who does he see sitting across the room waving and smiling seductively at him? Why, it's Amanda! I guess there's only one pub in this town since Graham didn't tell her the name of it and she went to the right one. Once again, Graham spends the night (but they don't sleep together since she was pissed drunk). The next morning, while they're chatting over coffee, his cell phone rings again and once again (for plot's sake) Amanda looks at it and sees it's someone named Olivia calling. Graham takes the call, going outside to chat. Amanda spies on him through the window and he's smiling and laughing and she thinks he's juggling two other women in his life. 

Graham tells her he thinks they should have lunch in town and get to know each other. Amanda tells him she owns her own movie advertising company and Graham tells her he's a book editor. Amanda confesses she hasn't cried since she was a teenager, when her parents divorced. She cried for a long time after it happened, but after that she hasn't shed a tear since because she thought she should "toughen up".  Apparently, this is the most tragic thing that has happened in her life. Look, having your parents get divorced is no picnic, but if that's the worst thing that's ever happened to you, your life can't be that bad. 

They have a wonderful time at lunch, but when Graham drops her off at the cottage, they both agree this relationship is complicated and better not to complicate it even further. However, that night, Amanda decides things aren't that complicated and decides to stop by Graham's home (how does she even know where he lives?) It's clear he has company over and Amanda quickly realizes this and thinks she's made a big mistake. But a little girl comes out and Graham intrudes her as Sophie, his daughter. I thought Olivia must be his ex-wife, but no, Olivia is his other daughter. Amanda thinks Graham is divorced (well, actually, she thought he was married at first which was hilarious), but he tells her he's been widowed for two years. You're probably wondering, if these two young girls don't have a mother, who was watching them when their father was spending the night with Amanda those two nights? He mentions they were with their grandparents. Also, I guess these two girls both had their own cellphone? Why else would their names be popping up on Graham's phone. I'm pretty sure the youngest one was six!

Amanda is quite surprised that Graham has two daughters, but she is smitten with them and the feeling is mutual. One of the girls tell her she looks like Barbie and they love her perfume and make up. After the girls are put to bed, Amanda tells Graham his kids are great, but is confused why he never told her about them because he's the one who wanted to go out to lunch and get to know each other. He says he didn't think it would be the best idea to introduce to someone who's leaving in a week and they'll never see again. I get that, but he still could have told her he had children, then maybe she wouldn't have shown up at his house unannounced. Graham tells her, "you and me, we come from different worlds" (okay, he didn't quote Hootie and the Blowfish, but he might as well have). He tells her he's a "book editor from London" and she's a "beautiful movie trailer maker from L.A." What is this, Notting Hill? He also tells her he has a cow in the backyard. He was joking, right? Because we never see this cow and I feel cheated. 

But they still can't stay away from each other and when it gets closer to the day Amanda is supposed to leave, they try to justify how they could make a long-distance relationship work. Graham assumes she must come to London all the time for work, but she says no, and suggests they could meet up in New York, since that would be easier (yeah, for her!). Amanda says they should just realize what they have now is good and is never going to get any better and to not pursue any type of relationship because there's no way they can keep flying back and forth all the time since she has her career and he has his kids. Then Graham drops the bomb that he's in love with her. (Not really sure why). The only way they can make this work is if Amanda moves in with Graham, right? It's not ideal for her not to be in L.A. for her career, but they can just send her everything to her computer. That's all she really needs to make movie trailers. There's no way Graham can move his two daughters to another country.

So Amanda is supposed to leave the next day, but when she's in the cab, she starts crying (who didn't see that coming?) and tells the driver to turn around. Since he can't make it all the way to the house, she just runs instead (and she's still wearing her stilettos! Did she not pack any other pairs of shoes that don't have pointy heels?) and I thought she was going to tell Graham that she was going to move to England, but no, she just tells him she thinks she can stay until New Year's Eve. That's great, Amanda you really solved the problem!

Let's check on Iris's adventure in L.A. While on the plane, she checks her e-mail and gets a message from Jasper asking her how he can reach her. Even though he's engaged, he still wants to keep Iris around as his sidepiece. Instead of just ignoring him like she should have, she writes back a reply back telling him she's trying to fall out of love with him.

Once she's settled at Amanda's house, she meets Miles (Jack Black), who is a composer. He works with Amanda's ex and is stopping by to pick up a few things. He's come with his girlfriend, Maggie, who he introduces to Iris. Throughout the movie, it was bugging me because she looked so familiar, then I was like, Is that Shannyn Sossoman from A Knight's Tale? And, yes, it was. Maggie is an up and coming actress. 

Jasper calls her and asks her if he can send her some pages from a book he's writing and wants her to look at them because she's the only one who he can trust to give him her honest opinion. Iris meets Amanda's neighbor, an elderly man named Arthur Abbot (Eli Wallach) who was an Oscar-winning screenwriter back in the golden era of Hollywood. What has Arthur written? Probably nothing you've heard of, but his friend wrote Casablanca and he added the "kid" to "Here's looking at you, kid." That's his contribution? I hope he didn't get any screenwriting credit for that movie!

Arthur has been receiving letters from the Writers Guild of America West, but he keeps tossing them in the trash. When Iris questions him about it, he tells her they just want to arrange a night to honor him. He doesn't  want to do this because he's embarrassed about being old and having to walk across the stage with a walker and is worried nobody will even show up. Iris tells him she'll help him get in shape (does this guy not have his own personal physical therapist...he lives in a mansion, so clearly he could afford one!) by the time the ceremony is held. Apparently, they want to have this ceremony for him soon and I'm thinking it's probably because the guy is in his 80s so they want to make sure he's still alive when they honor him. Yeah, that just got dark. 

Iris tells Miles about Arthur and how he's recommended a bunch of old movies for her to watch. Miles suggest that they watch one together and Iris thinks that's a great idea. Even though Amanda has shelves upon shelves of DVDs in her theater, she must not have any of the old classics Arthur recommended to Iris because she and Miles go to Blockbuster (how archaic!) to rent a couple of those movies. I hope Arthur didn't recommend anything to obscure because you're probably going to only find the really popular classics at Blockbuster. Also, you know they hid all the Kate Winslet and Jack Black movies!

While there, Miles keeps picking up movies and humming the theme, like the iconic ones to Chariots of Fire and Jaws. He hums the theme to Driving Miss Daisy, which I wasn't familiar with, but it was done by Hans Zimmer, who also did the score for this movie, so of course they had to shout out their own movie's composer. Fun fact: my favorite Hans Zimmer scores are from The Lion King and Gladiator. He picks up The Graduate and starts singing "Mrs. Robinson." Fun fact: my favorite Simon and Garfunkel song is "The Boxer." We see a quick shot of Dustin Hoffman in the next aisle, shaking his head and muttering, "Can't go anywhere." It was funny, but give me a break, like Dustin Hoffman would ever be at Blockbuster. He would be getting screeners delivered to his home. I bet he hasn't even seen this movie (The Holiday, not The Graduate). Apparently, he has a cameo in it because he was in the neighborhood when they were filming and wanted to see what was going on and they invited him to do a cameo. 

While they're at Blockbuster, Miles sees Maggie outside walking and holding hands with another guy. She had been in New Mexico working on a movie and it looks like she brought home a souvenir! After pouring his heart out to Iris, she tells him she knows how he feels and tells him about Jasper and soon she's pouring her heart out to him. It's Christmas Eve and Miles offers to make fettuccine for them so they can sit and eat it by the fire and enjoy being young and alive. Iris hugs him and tells him he's "an incredibly decent man." If that's not being friend zoned, I don't know what is. I guess we're supposed to think these two are romantically interested in each other, but I never got that. They just seemed more like good friends. At least they actually have a friendship while Amanda and Graham are just attracted to each other physically and pretty much have nothing in common. 

Since Miles wrote a theme song for Arthur for his special night, he plans to attend the ceremony with Iris. The night the ceremony will be held, he and Iris are having lunch together. He gets a call from Maggie, who wants tells him she misses him and wants to get together that day. I guess her new guy had to go back home to Santa Fe. 

Back home (er, back at Amanda's home), Iris gets a call from Jasper. He tells her he's sent a surprise and when she goes to open the front door, Jasper is standing there. WTF? He flew all the way from London to see her? No wonder poor Iris can't get over him since he keeps playing mind games with her. She thinks this means that perhaps he's not getting married anymore, but no, he's still getting married! Lovely guy. Iris finally sees that this guy is a douche and makes him leave. 

That night she attends Arthur's ceremony and the auditorium is packed and he is able to climb up to the stage and walk across it without a walker. Maybe Iris should look into another career as a physical therapist. Miles shows up a few minutes late, telling Iris that he told Maggie their relationship is over. He asks Iris what she's doing for New Year's Eve and she tells him she'll be back in England and he tells her he's never been there before, pretty much inviting himself. 

The very last scene we see is Iris, Miles, Amanda, Graham, and Sophie and Olivia all together at Graham's house, celebrating New Year's Eve as they listen to Aretha Franklin and sip champagne (well, everyone except the two little girls are sipping champagne). They almost make it look like this is the first time Amanda and Miles are meeting, even though they should know each other since Miles is friends with Amanda's ex. No way either of these couples are even going to last. This movie is terrible and might be one of the worst Christmas movies out there. Half the time I forgot it even was a Christmas movie!

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