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Holiday, The


Stars: Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Rufus Sewell, Edward Burns, Eli Wallach

Director: Nancy Meyers

Nancy Meyers, who has an almost unblemished record as the director of The Parent Trap, What Women Want and Something's Gotta Give, hits the buffers big-time with this grim-and-can-you-bear-it romantic comedy.

Ditched by their respective partners, English journalist Iris (Winslet) and LA cutie Amanda (Diaz), who makes movie trailers, agree to swap homes for a fortnight at Christmas.

Winslet lives in a ridiculously chintzy cottage in the wilds of Surrey '40 minutes from London' (OK, it's possible), and Diaz turns up wearing high heels in thick snow (as you do) and wonders why she falls over. The cab driver has refused to take her to the cottage, although it seems to be no problem when she's going home.

She falls straight into bed with Winslet's widower brother (Law), a humble book editor with two kids who lives in a mansion, while Winslet herself is gleefully bouncing up and down on beds in Diaz's vast LA hacienda, unsuccessfully trying to forget love rat Jasper (Sewell). But she does meet ancient Hollywood writer Arthur (Wallach) and film composer Miles (Black), who cheer her up.

An interminable preamble means this film, although at times bright and lively, seems to last almost as long as the holiday itself. Some charm would help but, while Law has more than you might expect, Diaz is annoying and Black hardly given a chance. With the worst of the dialogue, Winslet strives valiantly to make it work, though her character is frankly a pain.

The script itself has all the charm of a drunken warthog. It has its gaffes, too. When Winslet tells Wallach she's from Surrey, he remarks 'Cary Grant was from Surrey.' 'That's right!' exclaims Winslet. Alas no. Not unless they've moved Bristol to the south-east of England.

David Quinlan

USA 2006. UK Distributor: UIP (Universal/Columbia). Colour.
135 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 04 Dec 2006