Judge Ryan Keefer's wife does the heavy lifting in his first Blu-ray disc review, while he makes a turkey potpie (cause he don't let his woman give him no bullcrap!).
Our review of The Holiday, published March 6th, 2007, is also available.
"Legend has it, when the Santa Anas blow, anything can happen."
The Holiday has all the elements of your standard cookie-cutter romantic comedy. You've got your pretty couple, your, let's call them "homely," couple, and a couple other things that may appear to be a little more magical than other films have. But in this movie, one of a growing number in the Blu-ray catalog, do you have things worthy of bragging about to your next-generation video lover?
Facts of the Case
I'll get to my thoughts on The Holiday in a minute, but, to tell you the truth, it's hard to express my thoughts on the film. Quite frankly, my wife paid more attention; I was more interested in how the print would look on the PS3 I bought, as it's my first true-blu disc for the Verdict, and I was playing around with the buttons on my remote. I'll jump in every so often with any relevant thoughts at the end, but for now, the floor is open to my lovely wife, Raina.
The Holiday is not an earth-shattering film, good or bad. Those that want to like it will like it and those expecting to hate it will probably hate it. My solution is to look at The Holiday as a holiday in itself. While on holiday, one meets new people, tries new things, and generally immerses oneself in changing one's self-image. Sometimes, a holiday can be too long and you begin longing to return to your own life, however dull it may be.
Fortunately for the viewer, Amanda's (Cameron Diaz, In Her Shoes) life is not dull. She makes movie trailers in LA. The life of Iris (Kate Winslet, Titanic), a Daily Telegraph staff writer in London, is not dull either. It is their love lives that need work, hence the romantic comedy genre. Amanda has just broken up with her cheating boyfriend, Ethan (Ed Burns, Saving Private Ryan), while Iris has found out the focus of her love life for the past three years, Jasper (Rufus Sewell, The Illusionist), has gotten engaged. To make Iris's life all the more complicated, Jasper still wants to have a relationship with her on the side, making it nearly impossible for Iris to move on.
Speaking of moving on, that's exactly the theme of the film. It's about rising above your past and knowing that you can make a conscious decision to change the direction of your life, even though not a lot of information is given on the instrument to actually move on. Apparently the solution is a home exchange, where two people exchange homes, cars, computers, everything. After nary a minute of thought, Amanda and Iris agree to switch houses and they each jump on planes to start their two-week vacations.
Though they both enjoy the exchange, Iris gets more out of it than Amanda, since the exchange occurred during winter. And we all know what winter is like in England—just ask one of your freezer's inhabitants. After one incredibly boring night, Amanda wants to return to home, but her leave is delayed by an interesting encounter with Graham (Jude Law, Alfie), Iris's brother. Meanwhile, Iris meets Miles (Jack Black, King Kong), Amanda's friend and movie trailer music composer. Yes, Kate Winslet and Jack Black—not the most obvious choice, but I think it makes it clear in the film that love is not about looks and what other people think, but rather their personality. It's fairly clear what's going to happen from here, but I'm not going to say one way or the other. Bonus: a cute side story about Arthur (Eli Wallach, The Magnificent Seven), a retired movie actor with whom Iris forms a relationship while helping him to realize his impact on the world of cinema.
By and large The Holiday wasn't so bad, but there are a couple of problems with it that didn't sell me on it. First, and not to be cruel, but the whole concept of Diaz as a smart person is a stretch. Sorry, her best role to date has been in In Her Shoes, where she played an attractive woman who slacked a bit because she couldn't read. Going from that role (or even lighter fare) to this one made my suspension of disbelief crash from the weight. Second, the movie is way too long. An effective romcom should only be about 90 minutes; this was over 120, and any part of the film (which was written and directed by Something's Gotta Give's Nancy Meyers) could have been removed (and substituted for Black's Tenacious D freeform humor, which was in short supply), to produce a better film.
On Blu-ray, the presentation of this disc is excellent. The 1080p AVC MPEG-4 transfer renders flesh tones that were natural. Images possessed outstanding depth (Winslet's English countryside cottage is breathtaking) throughout, and black level remained consistent without any compression issues to speak of. I'm a fan of the lossless uncompressed soundtracks, and the PCM 5.1 soundtrack was fine. However for a romantic comedy, this was a little wasted on me. The extras are day and date ports from the standard definition version of the film. Meyers contributes a commentary for the film with various members of the crew and there's your usual generic making-of.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
My wife's right though, the Eli Wallach side story is pretty touching. Come on, the guy was 95 when this was being filmed, and his story of an aging Hollywood vet being bashful about receiving a lifetime tribute could be easily autobiographical. He's had a long and healthy career and this is a poignant little coda. And in a change of pace, Law is a welcome addition to a romantic comedy. To quote my estrogen-centered half: "He's so nice and sweet—he's the family guy in this film; not a womanizer. Him and his little girls, it just makes the film so much better. In one scene, he grabs Cameron's hand when they're lying down with his two kids and it was just great."
To reverse things, and make them closer to the "She Said, He Said" tip, she thought it was great. She enjoyed each of the characters and one of her favorite parts is when Iris realizes she's not in love with Jasper anymore. She really liked the Kate Winslet and Jude Law characters, just because they seemed the most down to earth. He might have liked the different styles and agreed with how appealing the Jude Law character was, but when it came to the runtime, felt this was the Spartacus of romantic comedies; or maybe Troy would be a more accurate analogy.
The male leads of The Holiday are acquitted and assigned to spend some quality time with the betrothed of this court. The rest of the accused are sent to the salt mines, of course.
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