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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Nancy Meyers
Cast:
Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Eli Wallach, Edward Burns, Rufus Sewell
Writing Credits:
Nancy Meyers

Synopsis:
Two women on opposite sides of the globe, Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz) and Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet), find themselves in similar predicaments. Desperate for a change of scenery, the two women meet online and swap houses for the Christmas holiday, discovering that a change of address really can change your life.

Box Office:
Budget
$85 million.
Opening Weekend
$12.778 million on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$63.224 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 136 min.
Price: $28.95
Release Date: 3/13/2007

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Nancy Meyers, Composer Hans Zimmer, Production Designer John Hutman, and Editor Joe Hutshing
• “Foreign Exchange: The Making of The Holiday” Featurette
• Previews


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Holiday (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 20, 2007)

Director Nancy Meyers has made a nice career with female friendly efforts like 2003’s Something’s Gotta Give and 2000’s What Women Want. For her newest flick, we get similar touchy-feely fare via 2006’s The Holiday.

In this movie, we meet two single women: American movie trailer editor Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz) and Brit newspaper writer Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet). Iris maintains a long-time love for co-worker Jasper Bloom (Rufus Sewell) but he cheats on her and avoids a connection with her. A bombshell drops at the paper’s Christmas party when Jasper announces his engagement to a different co-worker.

While this occurs, Amanda dumps her boyfriend Ethan (Edward Burns) when he cheats on her. This is really just a symptom of the couple’s wider problems, however, as neurotic workaholic Amanda tends to sabotage all of her relationships. As a reaction, she decides to take a rare vacation.

When Amanda spies a listing to rent Iris’s house, the pair work out a deal. They will do a “home exchange” that means they flop residences, cars and whatnot for the duration of their trips. This sends Amanda to England and Iris to LA.

Thus the film embarks on fish out of water adventures and inevitable romance. As she acclimates to LA, Iris meets movie composer Miles (Jack Black), while Amanda runs into Iris’s brother Graham (Jude Law). Sparks fly, complications ensue, and all moves toward inevitability.

Although there’s no hard and fast rule that movies in certain genres should remain within a certain running time range, we nonetheless see this in action. Usually you can guess about how long a movie will be based on the kind of flick it is. Would you expect a serious historical drama to run 95 minutes? No – those typically hit 150-minute-plus territory. Will you find rowdy comedies that go for more than two hours? Not often – despite a few exceptions, these usually clock in around 90 minutes.

This means that when the prospective viewer notices the 136 minute running time of The Holiday, he or she may wonder if it’s a misprint. Nope – this flick really is that long. That’s a prime mistake. If a movie like this goes for more than 100 minutes or so, it needs a good reason to do so. There better be something special at work or else the film likely will suffer.

The excessively length definitely mars Holiday. I don’t know if 30 minutes or so of trims would have made a big difference, but at least a shorter running time would have left us with a less tedious flick. Holiday doesn’t feature an actual plot. It simply follows the romantic dalliances of its lead actresses, so it’s not like less movie would mar story topics or character development.

Indeed, we know pretty much all we need to know about the various roles within minutes of their introductions. These are character sketches, not three-dimensional personalities, so there’s not much to gain from all the extra time. Instead, we simply find all sorts of the same-old, same-old, regurgitated at us over and over again.

And that grows stale without much effort. Again, a 100-minute version of this tale might not have prospered, but at least it wouldn’t bore as badly as the 136-minute edition does. The movie never really feels like it’s going anywhere. Instead, the flick just meanders through predictable events and twists without much to maintain our interest.

At least The Holiday boasts a good cast. Diaz and Winslet are likeable as always, and plenty of solid performers show up in the smaller roles. Too bad none of them get to do much. Winslet and Diaz act out their preordained paths, and the others follow chick flick conventions.

This means the two romantic leading men end up as the standard neutered nice boys. That’s bad enough in itself, but the decision to make Miles and Graham such wimps becomes more annoying given the casting choices. If you pick talents like Jack Black and Jude Law, why put them in such one-dimensional, bland parts? They look ill at ease here since they’re stuck in negligible, boring roles.

At no point does The Holiday ever threaten to become anything more than a standard female romantic fantasy. With its predictable characters and story threads, there’s nothing new to be found in it. Instead, it just wastes a lot of talent.


The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

The Holiday appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie featured a rather lackluster presentation.

Sharpness was adequate most of the time. However, quite a few shots came across as a bit soft. These were never terribly ill defined and the flick was usually reasonably accurate, but I thought it failed to present the expected delineation. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement remained minimal. Source flaws stayed absent, though I felt grain was a little heavy.

Despite the film’s naturalistic palette, Holiday didn’t offer dynamic tones. Instead, the colors tended to stay fairly flat and bland. They weren’t poor, but they needed greater vivacity. Blacks were reasonably dark, while shadows showed decent clarity. I don’t know how much I can blame the transfer here, as I started to suspect this is just how Nancy Meyers likes her films to look; Something’s Gotta Give demonstrated similarly drab visuals. Whatever the case, the image was still pretty forgettable.

If you expect razzmatazz from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Holiday, then you’ve not seen a lot of chick flicks. The soundfield stayed subdued most of the time. Music showed good stereo imaging, and the track opened up the sides and surrounds for a decent sense of ambiance. A few scenes broadened to the back more effectively, especially when we heard Amanda’s bombastic trailers. Nonetheless, the vast majority of the mix remained uncomplicated and without much ambition.

Audio quality was fine. Speech sounded natural and crisp, while music was lively and perky. Effects also came across as accurate and concise. Bass response was acceptable. Across the board, this was a decent mix but not one that impressed.

Among the extras, we find an audio commentary with director Nancy Meyers, composer Hans Zimmer, production designer John Hutman, and editor Joe Hutshing. All of them sit together for this running, screen-specific piece, though Meyers heavily dominates. Hutsching doesn’t show up until around the end of the first act and Zimmer leaves at about the 50-minute point. In any case, the chat looks at the opening sequence, cast, characters and performances, the score and musical themes, sets and locations, inspirations and influences, production design, and various scene specifics.

Meyers and the others provide a decent examination of the flick. The commentary covers the production in a general way that illustrates various issues with reasonable depth. At no point does this threaten to become a particularly involving chat, but it works well enough to merit a listen.

By the way, when I reviewed Something’s Gotta Give, I griped because Meyers referred to deleted scenes but the DVD included none. Here she explains why she doesn’t like to provide deleted scenes on DVDs. I’m glad she finally set the record straight on that issue.

In addition, we find an 18-minute featurette called Foreign Exchange: The Making of The Holiday. This show mixes movie snippets, behind the scenes materials and interviews with Meyers, Hutman, director of photography Dean Cundey, UK location manager Benjamin Greenacre and actors Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Jack Black, Rufus Sewell, Edward Burns, and Eli Wallach. The show provides a recap of story and characters as well as cast and performances, Meyers’ work on the set, the flick’s tone, visual design, sets and some scene specifics.

“Exchange” offers a tedious promotional piece. Throughout the featurette, we get the usual praise and puff combined with a surfeit of film clips. Some of the info about the sets is interesting, but otherwise I learned almost nothing useful about the movie in this long advertisement.

The DVD opens with some ads. We get promos for Spider-Man 3, Catch and Release and The Pursuit of Happyness. These also appear in the disc’s Previews area along with trailers for Are We Done Yet?, Across the Universe, Stranger Than Fiction, Casino Royale, Marie Antoinette, The Natural Director’s Cut and Spider-Man 2.1. No trailer for The Holiday appears on the disc.

Should you expect anything new, fresh or even vaguely interesting from The Holiday? Nope. It gives us a forgettable romantic fantasy that runs too long and offers too little to occupy our imaginations. The DVD presents unspectacular picture and audio as well as mediocre extras. I can’t recommend this combination of boring film and lackluster DVD.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.65 Stars Number of Votes: 20
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