I saw this at Studio 28 on a day off back in January 2007, but never seemed to get around to blogging a review. So last night with nothing even passable on TV we wanted to watch, Mrs. Dr. Phil pulled out this DVD from the pile. What? Me watch a Kate Winslet film? Sure, why not. (grin)
Iris (Kate) in the U.K. and Amanda (Cameron Diaz) in L.A. swap houses over the Internet after bad "breakups". I thought this would be an awful romantic comedy, but it’s sort of charming and very much more in the vein of Love, Actually, one of favorite movies, then rampant sex comedy or even Bridget Jones' Diary. Yes – Kate sings, dances and gets wet (pool), but otherwise keeps her clothes on and doesn’t die. Utterly charming middle story with Eli Wallach as an aging script writer next door in L.A. Jude Law is Iris’s brother – he runs into Amanda. Jack Black is a friend of Amanda's ex, and stops by Amanda's house only to run into Iris.
It isn't really all that confusing and being this globe hopping movie which had to be filmed half in L.A. and half in England, they did a good job of playing some of the British sensibility humor without resorting to some of the cheesy American humor gaffes which have been so popular in the last few years. Early on in the film, when Amanda first ends up in this English cottage, I thought twice they'd go lowbrow -- and they didn't. I thought Amanda would start a fire in the fireplace and forget to open the flue. And I thought she wouldn't know about Iris' dog and turn out to be violently allergic or hates dog or the dog hates her. When those two things didn't happen, I could relax. Whew. Bullet dodged.
Jack Black can be funny and he can be annoying. Here he is charming and witty and musical -- it works nearly all the time. And where it doesn't quite work, you can just chalk it up to being L.A. And the subplot with Eli Wallach really redeems this movie. Like the aforementioned Love, Actually, having multiple levels of relationships really emphasizes what love is. And if you've seen Love, Actually, then you know about the magic of two little girls dancing to "Christmas carolers", and you'll smile when you run into that subplot in The Holiday.
It may not be high art, great drama or corseted costume epic, but this is a charming film which will probably be added to our Christmas movie list. (grin) As for Kate, I have just one two words for you -- air guitar. 'Nuff said.