The movie's from 2006, which feels oddly like a really really long time ago in romantic comedy movie language, but if it were made today I'm not sure anything would be different. Maybe just more Tweeting and shit in it? Honestly, that makes it heinous for reasons which don't even touch on the other, far more critical reasons it should be killed with fire. And, since you know I love to make declarative statements like that without any real evidence aside from my own warped opinions and some memes from the internet, feel free to disagree with me, even if it means you have shitty taste in movies! Are you ready for the reasons? Here they come, bitches!
1. The gross tropey cliche of Kate Winslet as a Pathetic Single Woman (TM Movies Like This One)
Whether you like Schumer or not, girl has it right with that vase of (probably boxed) chablis.
First and foremost: the number one reason this movie is a honkin' trainwreck is because of all the tropey cliches in it. You might argue that cliches aren't really the harbingers of the apocalypse (unless you're a writer), but a landslide of them is definitely evidence of lazy writing and a clear desire to perpetuate horrible ideas about gender roles...and we sure could use a lot less of that. I mean, it's like writer/director Nancy Meyers filled an entire wall in her Pacific Palisades cliff side writer's retreat (logical assumption) with tropey cliches written on index cards and just randomly fired a dart gun at the wall in order to pack this screenplay with shit concepts. What other devoid-of-life, wrung-out-dirty-washcloth of a cliche can I toss into this stewpot of a script, Meyers wondered, as she gazed out over the ocean, drank her bottle of Veen rare water, and dug her pedicured toes into the Mongolian lambskin rug?
Let's see what all the strikes are against poor Kate, one of the protagonists in this movie. 1: only person working during company party, because...she doesn't know how to have fun? is a secondary tropey cliche of a workaholic?; 2: wears un-thrilling, non-sexy Pathetic Single Woman (known as PSW from here on out) dresses and men's pajamas; 3: attempts suicide, hilariously; 4: thanks to this script, repeatedly debases herself because the man she's in love with is a cunt; 5: is only able to make friends with old people and Jack Black because that's all PSW are allowed; 6: is the object of Jack Black's perpetual surprise that she looks at all attractive, because obviously she's meant to be a troglodyte. This conversation from the first 5 minutes of the movie pretty much sums it up:
Boss Lady: You know, I never realized how pathetic you are.
Pathetic Single Woman: Really? Oh, god. I'm SO aware of it.
(FYI it took me like 20 minutes to choose an image of her because every single picture of her on the internet proves that she is a beautiful, compelling homo sapiens by any definition and I just couldn't decide)
You guys, I get it, she's an actor, and sometimes they're supposed to play parts where they aren't beautiful and perfect, because they have to make payments on the Rover or pay off the admissions officer at Harvard-Westlake. That's not the point. The point is: WHY CAN'T SHE ALSO BE THE HOT ONE AND DID A WOMAN THINK ANOTHER WOMAN NEEDED TO SAY THAT ABOUT HERSELF AS A FUNNY JOKE EW EW EW.
She goes through nearly the entire film sucking the metaphorical dick of the marrying-someone-else kind of cad she's in unrequited love with - giving him expensive gifts, telling him he's brilliant, READING HIS MANUSCRIPT FOR HIM (ahah this one is particularly lame) - in a rosy-glowing ode to what PSWs do for cruel, beautiful men who mistreat them. Is this so all the PSWs in the audience will nod eagerly, recognizing their own pathos? It's such revolting pandering, and so obviously crafted, that I wish I knew what kind of woman would actually think this is truth-telling so I could give her a hug AND a punt to the vagine.
What's this character's reward, after also being forced to fall in love with the 'less hot one' out of the two male leads (because the other one is her brother, and even this movie won't stoop that low) and spending the movie telling every man she meets regardless of age that he's the most amazing man she's ever met? Jack Black calling her 'sweetie,' that's what.
2. The gross tropey cliche of a shlub like Jack Black bagging amazing women and being justified in doing so because Shakespeare wrote 'love is blind' (TM Movies Like This One)
This well-worn character is a staple of cinema and is one of the lead bricks which drags stories perpetually into the abyss. I don't even want to open this rusty, maggoty can packed with worms because I'll be on the internet forever, looking for examples, when I know perfectly well you all can instantly think of your own examples and get riled up just as easily.
3. The gross tropey cliche of Jude Law as a Hot Crying Bitch (TM Movies Like This One)
This one, I love to hate. Jude Law's character could not be more perfect if he'd been written by a woman creating fan fiction romantic comedy O WAIT NEVER MIND:
Exhibit A: beautiful sensitive wears a scarf and glasses
Exhibit B: wealthy intellectual with loads of style and the same Eames leather desk chair that Cammie's character has in her house so clearly they were meant to be but who also "sews and has a cow"
Exhibit C: handily recently widowed with 2 angelic polite sweet well-adjusted pretty little girls
Exhibit D: charming man whore who just needs the right woman to appeal to his man whore side without crushing it completely
But the cherry on this ice cream sundae of Marty Stu-isms is that this character is also a Hot Crying Bitch. In the clinch, instead of turning into a jerk or James Bond or what have you, he turns into this:
Jude Law is very skilled at remaining beautiful while crying, which I bet is on his resume right next to 'Sounds posh' and 'Capable of doing Hamlet without sucking.' I mean - every straight woman loves the idea of an unobtainable man breaking down in front of her, needing her but being too afraid to tell her, right? Because real men never cry unless they've been so mesmerized by Cameron Diaz's punane that they can't go on with their lives when she leaves them to go back to her job, right? And then pretty pretty princess and twirly twirly happily ever after, right? Fuck me gently with a chainsaw!
4. The idea that everyone except the gardeners in Los Angeles is 1% and lives in mansions
I'm willing to believe that Cammie's character makes enough scratch to afford the GUEST HOUSE on the property she purportedly lives in. She cuts trailers for a living, right? probably makes, oh, let's say a half a million dollars a year? (I know, you want to die, but let's be generous about it for argument's sake and say that she is the most in-demand person in her industry) The Beverly Hills Mediterranean-style hacienda she lives in - with a beautiful pool, stylish landscaping, and Pinterest Medal of Honor interior decorating - would probably go for a conservative 8 MILLION DOLLARS OR SO.
I mean, everything in this house is cream, white, or shiny black, and made of cashmere, marble, or burnished wood and, in the way of the designer who does all of Nancy Meyers's wet dream sets, appears completely untouched. Why the hell doesn't gurl just do a staycation and actually enjoy her 8 MILLION DOLLAR mansion? Get some Pink Dot up in there, watch some Prime Suspect on her huge flatscreen, float in the pool drinking Midori straight out of the bottle? Because she's so effing rich she can't even be bothered, and it's better to spent $10,000 on a same-day ticket to Heathrow?
I hate it when Los Angeles looks like a Restoration Hardware catalog in the movies, and appears to be populated solely by fit, hip people without a discernible coke habit. Except, excuse me, for the gardeners and housekeepers. They are super happy to be leafblowing and tidying and providing the occasional wry side-eye at Cammie's mansion in their uniforms, aren't they? FUUUUUCK. Cammie, of course, has no interaction with them; it takes PSW, who is obviously able to communicate with those of a more lowly caste, to speak to them. An actual hardworking member of the film industry is more likely to live in this building:
...which is unsexy as fuck but STILL goes for like $2000 a month in rent!? I'm just sayin'.
I haven't forgotten this is a romantic comedy, where everything ends up roses because that's the formula. But that doesn't mean that we can't be presented with rich or appealing characters who live in places which actually reflect who they are, or what they want, instead of places that make the audience feel badly for being alive. Examples from romantic comedies which aren't made of the Hanta virus:
5. The idea that everyone in England is 1% and lives in cottages
The UK parts of this movie take place in a fairytale village with cozy pubs, cozy markets, and lovely manor homes. PSW writes wedding announcements for a newspaper and yet is able to afford what might possibly be the most charming piece of (imaginary) property in the UK. I mean, even if her rich dead grandma willed her the house, she's still got to pay property taxes, right?
This fucking place is like a Thomas Kinkade painting. Here's Cammie being bored in this wonderland, which is amply stocked with comforts and decorated by woodland creatures:
I don't expect PSW to live in, like, an estate from 'Attack the Block' or anything, but come ON!?
6. Everyone in this movie is white except the gardeners
This screencap makes me want to eviscerate a kitten. I love that it looks like they're dancing some kind of classist pas de deux, with PSW all in breezy linen doing the Molly Ringwald from 'The Breakfast Club' and Gardener all in normal people clothes doing the chimney sweep dance from 'Mary Poppins' while he gazes skyward, wondering if hellfire will please rain down on this bitch so he can get an afternoon off. Christ on a cracker!?
Again, this is not Los Angeles. It's the part of Los Angeles where people who are not real live, people who perpetuate these stereotypes and create a skewed sense of the reality of the modern American city.
I mean, when the sad lonely old timey Hollywood writer guy - who's been fancied up and given a new lease on life by PSW, which is her job in this movie - gets an award at the Writer's Guild, even that goddamned audience is, like, 98% white! They didn't even try. GROAN.
7. Cute people who cheat get away with it because dumb reasons
When Cameron Diaz and her cute ex are arguing about why he fucked his receptionist, he blames her for a bunch of stuff, like being too tired to fuck HIM, being too old, and some other reasons. This cliche of pandering to working women in their early 30s is maybe even more foul than the other cliches we have to deal with in this pigwallow of a movie. Oh wah! Cute cheaty guys are so frustrating when they don't take responsibility for cheating! Cammie's gonna get even with him by throwing a shoe at him and fucking Jude Law in the next scene! I feel real bad for her, being so disrespected by this guy.
Boss Lady: You know, when you catch your guy with another woman, you're not supposed to stay friends with him. You're supposed to never talk to the prick again, not do his laundry.
Self-respecting Women the World Over: ...
We know Jack Black's Bed Bath and Beyond of a character is worth PSW's time because his cute girlfriend cheats on him (rather lazily), which makes him on the level. He's basically the PSW character's version of the Crying Hot Bitch, except Jack Black, so there's a lot of a capella "doo-de-lee-doo"-ing and eyebrow-wiggling. None of this ultimately does a single goddamned thing for furthering the plot; it's just another thing that happens in movies like this to paper-doll characters like these. Why does it have to be about cheating cute people who are just so cute we can't live without 'em? Why does that always have to be the infernal machine that drives these stupid stories?
8. Elderly people with dementia are charming and conveniently clean up well
Ugh. All these screencaps are giving me a rash.
I blame 'The Notebook' wholeheartedly for establishing this cinematic falsity. In that shitshow, Alzheimer's is a tender, heart-wrenching experience full of exquisite flashbacks to Hot Ryan Gosling athletically screwing Hot Rachel McAdams in the rain, or in a barn, or wherever, punctuated by tear-jerky moments where Dapper James Garner snuggles Elegant Gena Rowlands as she gently slips away from him. Want the real picture? Sarah Polley got close with that good, depressing film she directed, but really, dementia at any point is a bitch. It's more like Unhinged Ellen Burstyn in 'Requiem for a Dream' than anything else, actually. Realtalk: not charming. No nice clean up. Stains. Embarrassment. Depression. Fear. Anger. Shall I go on? No? Should we go back to this instead, you pussies?
It's foul that giving a shit about the elderly is a manipulative device in this movie instead of a real expression of character building. Just fucking leave it alone if, at the end, it's just going to be about corn pone blonde people dancing awkwardly around anyway. Example:
9. Everyone in this movie is straight
Please refer to point number 2 to see why I can't even with this one.
10. This movie is basically 'Love Actually' with Los Angeles instead of Wisconsin in it
And, last but not least, if you want the very best takedown of THAT movie to illustrate point number 10, just go here:
So, to review why 'The Holiday' should be killed with fire:
1. Tropey cliches perpetuating outdated, ludicrous stereotypes
That's it! That's all we need! *sound of cat retching up hairball*