Overindulgence is part and parcel of the festive season, but writer/director Nancy Meyers takes this to such an extreme she should be required to supply antacids with every ticket to The Holiday. She certainly didn't hold back when it came to casting. And yet, despite the combined charms of Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black, this romantic comedy ends up feeling soggy, syrupy and so bloating it'll put you to sleep before the pudding's done.
Both smarting from the pain of broken relationships, LA marketing guru Amanda (Diaz) and Surrey-based journalist Iris (Winslet) embark on a house swap for the holidays. Lethargy sets in early as this decision is preceded by deadly scenes of 'surfing the net' and typing messages to confirm the travel arrangements. Finally, they complete the transaction, only for Meyers to put the brakes on again, revelling in cutesy scenes of Amanda buying biscuits and dancing around the living room in her pyjamas. Meanwhile Iris catches up on some lost sleep...
"LAUGHS SCATTERED FEW AND FAR BETWEEN"
When their prospective beaus eventually turn up, it's only a minor injection of excitement. A usually uninhibited Jack Black appears straitjacketed opposite Winslet, and they never get over that initial awkwardness. In fact, Iris's budding friendship with a legendary screenwriter (Eli Wallach) makes more impact. The dynamic between Diaz and Jude Law is more engaging, but it progresses clumsily (ironically, it seems, because of ill-judged cuts). Overall, the journey feels protracted, with laughs scattered very few and far between. This Christmas, you're better off staying home in front of the telly.