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With: Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Eli Wallach, Rufus Sewell, Edward Burns, Shannyn Sossamon, Lindsay Lohan, James Franco
Written by: Nancy Meyers
Directed by: Nancy Meyers
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and some strong language
Running Time: 138
Date: 12/05/2006

The Holiday (2006)

2 Stars (out of 4)

'Holiday' Thin

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Writer/director Nancy Meyers routinely announces her movies a year or so in advance, with the moniker "Untitled Nancy Meyers Project," which opens up a whole world of possibilities. Then, just a month or two before release the official title comes, and it's always something blandly generic. Her last title, Something's Gotta Give (2003), literally could be the title of any movie (The Godfather? Jackass?).

That space between possibility and actuality fills up a great deal of Meyers' work, although she shows no awareness of it. In her new movie The Holiday, Amanda (Cameron Diaz) cuts together movie trailers for a living. We see one example of her work (a fictitious Lindsay Lohan/James Franco action flick), but there's no parallel to the horrible, real-life trailer for The Holiday, which focuses on the film's few slapstick moments and none on the dialogue or relationships.

The high-concept idea has the recently-dumped Amanda, who lives in Los Angeles, trading houses with the recently-dumped Iris (Kate Winslet), who lives in a cozy, snow-covered cottage just outside London. Of course, they both meet new men (Jude Law and Jack Black, respectively), each with new complications.

Meyers expends a great deal of effort crafting her little "get-to-know-ya" conversations between characters, but she doesn't appear to notice the bigger picture, such as who these people actually are or what they want. They seem to have it pretty good when they're not whining about being unloved. They're all apparently well off, working in glamorous jobs (the movies, high-profile journalism, etc.), and they're all uncannily beautiful, or at least dating beautiful people. Meyers apparently spent more time on clean, even lighting and flawless makeup than she did on things like setting up meaningful shots or finding a comic rhythm.

In that vein, the film pays lofty tribute to great comedies past, from The Lady Eve to Mr. Hulot's Holiday and Punch-Drunk Love, but Meyers has clearly failed to learn anything from these great works. Very simply, there are no laughs here. And after sitting through 138 minutes viewers may feel they've earned a real holiday. The Holiday

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