Now, hear me out. I’m not for a second going to pretend that The Holiday is a great piece of cinema – it isn’t – but I can’t deny falling victim to its uncompromising, irrepressible, mushy charm every Christmas when it’s reeled off on loop on ITV2. I suppose it’s what one might call a “guilty pleasure”.
Nancy Meyers is almost single-handedly responsible for bringing feel-good warmth to the world of film over the past 30 years, with such gooey classics as Father of the Bride, The Parent Trap, and Something’s Gotta Give to her name. In The Holiday, it’s more of the same. The world’s most unnaturally good-looking British siblings (Kate Winslet and Jude Law) cross paths with serenely gorgeous Cameron Diaz and – well – Jack Black in a whirlwind “holiday” romance. You certainly can’t argue with the sheer star power going on. There are supporting roles from Rufus Sewell, Edward Burns, and a gratuitous cameo from Dustin Hoffman in a video store. And who could forget then-90-year old Eli Wallach’s uplifting turn as the lonely screenwriter of Hollywood’s Golden Age?
Yes, the dialogue is corny; yes, it’s bursting with clicheÌd attempts at romantic set-ups – including a meta parody of the “meet cute”; and yes, it has bizarre delusions of snowfall in England (and a ludicrous assumption that we still say “shag”). The set-up of The Holiday is ridiculous – Meyers’ characters seem to oper- ate within an idyllically surreal all-trusting and open-door society when they decide to abandon their lives, cross the Atlantic, and just swap houses on a whim – but there’s something incredibly liberating and carefree about that.
Wouldn’t it be nice if human beings were actually that unguarded, if their doors were that unbolted and if chatting to strangers on the internet held no sinister, perverted chance of danger whatsoever? What a world that would be.