Harlie’s Very Merry Movie List — Do they know it’s Christmas…

It’s the holiday season, so it makes sense to include a film titled The Holiday. Apparently, this is a very popular movie, but I have never seen it before, which is one of the most important (and difficult) rules I must abide by:

  1. I can only watch Christmas movies.
  2. I can only watch Christmas movies that have come out on the same day of viewing.
  3. Only in the case when no films have been released on the day of viewing may I watch a Christmas movie filmed in years past. However, it must be a Christmas movie which I have previously not seen.
  4. On Christmas Eve, I will watch Die Hard.

My mom, Christmas Movie Expert, has seen this one before, but she has more wiggle room with the rules since they only apply to me. However, I was joined by a new pair of eyes from way over yonder in Oklahoma. Making her first appearance in #MerryMovie2k20 is dear friend and self-titled Christmas Movie in July, Liz Hayes.

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(WARNING: THERE ARE SPOILERS, BUT IT HAS BEEN OUT FOR 14 YEARS. THEN AGAIN, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I’VE SEEN IT, SO MAYBE YOU HAVEN’T EITHER.)

Title of Film: The Holiday

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: December 8, 2006

Where to Watch: Sling TV, Hulu, or for the $4 Liz and I paid to YouTube.

Synopsis: A house exchange between strangers leads to unexpected love between friends.

Before I even start talking about anything else, I was shocked to see Edward Burns show up in this movie after I just watched The Fitzgerald Family Christmas. It was equally shocking to see the 180-degree turn in the type of character he played, which is either a reflection of his acting abilities or is a magnificent display of his evolution from 2006 to 2012. I’m leaning towards the latter option.

Moving past Burns, I fear I must report that there are numerous issues I have with this film. The most vexing issue is that Jack Black is in this flick, and doesn’t get NEARLY enough screen time. That man is a national treasure and they did him dirty (although he does get to kiss Kate Winslet, which probably rocked his world).

In all seriousness, though, The Holiday suffers from something I have repeatedly addressed in my holiday watch. It is a Christmas movie that isn’t a Christmas movie. As Liz poignantly described, “Christmas is a feeling of love greater than yourself.” The Holiday had every opportunity to nail that feeling. Broken families and broken hearts, but the pieces just never fall together as they should. Perhaps it is because more than half of the narrative elects to focus on contrived love over true love. Perhaps it is because the writers repeatedly abandon character development in favor of causing more conflict. Whatever the source might be, I know that there was something special in The Holiday and it frustrates me beyond all belief that it was wasted in so many ways.

So that I might avoid being a complete downer, I would like to highlight the one storyline I treasured in this film. The ever lovely Kate Winslet befriends an elderly screenwriter by the name of Arthur Abbott and through their friendship, he has his moment in the sun, surrounded by hundreds who love him. It is a beautiful subplot that could have and should have been made the focus of the film. If the writers chose to lift this narrative above the rest, The Holiday could be one of the most beautiful Christmas movies ever made. Likewise, Winslet’s relationship with Jack Black was crafted so well, it is a shame that the movie didn’t run with their story, leaving the Cameron Diaz/Jude Law love fest for another film to pick up. Doing this would sacrifice one of the best scenes in the movie, but Liz and I figured out a way to keep it around in a surprisingly satisfying way. Maybe we just ought to redo the whole thing and call it the Ford-Hayes cut. It would make the movie about an hour shorter, but that really wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

This week in my life is quickly becoming one of the most straining I’ve had in a long time, so I can’t dwell too much longer on The Holiday despite all I still really want to say about it. So, here are the Holly Berries awarded by Christmas Movie Expert Kris Ford, the Christmas Movie Enthusiast (Me), and Christmas Movie in July Liz Hayes.

My Momma’s Holly Berries

  1. Plot: 3/5
  2. Ending: 5/5
  3. Set Design: 4/5
  4. Characters/Acting: 5/5
  5. Christmas: 2/5

As you will soon see, 19 out of 25 Holly Berries is far more generous than Liz and I offer, but my mom is a pretty generous human being all around and probably gives this movie the credit it is due. She also made me guess which scene was her favorite and I am happy to report that I am an excellent daughter who got it right first try. If you have seen this movie before, it’s the tent/blanket fort scene. For those of you who haven’t and aren’t very interested in watching this flick, you can see it here. For that scene alone, I could consider a higher rating, but I also had to endure Diaz and Law pretending that they liked kissing each other and for that, I have no mercy in my heart.

As a final comment, my mom said that she also appreciated what Kate Winslet did for the Arthur plot and his story truly showed the Christmas spirit. I couldn’t agree more.

My Holly Berries

  1. Plot: 2.5/5
  2. Ending: 3/5
  3. Set Design: 4/5
  4. Characters/Acting: 4/5
  5. Christmas: 1.5/5

As I give The Holiday 15 out of 25 Holly Berries, I only have this to say: Nancy Meyers (director and writer), you absolutely need to figure out your own love life.

Liz’s Holly Berries

  1. Plot: 2/5
  2. Ending: 2.5/5
  3. Set Design: 4/5
  4. Characters/Acting: 3.5/5
  5. Christmas: 0/5

That’s right, folks — a zero. And honestly, if it wasn’t for Arthur, I would have done the same. The legendary Liz makes history and calls out The Holiday for what it is and it ain’t Christmas. However, she did enjoy the film score/music, which is a pretty tremendous comment considering what a wonderful musician she is. Settling on 12 Holly Berries, I am beyond proud and grateful to give you her final comment:

“WHO WAS WATCHING JUDE LAW’S CHILDREN.”

We’ll never know, Liz. We’ll never know.

If you have any thoughts or feelings about The Holiday and want to share, feel free to reach out on Twitter @HarlieFord or send me a telepathic image of Jack Black playing a toy saxophone. I’ll get it, I promise.

Oh! If you enjoyed this review and want to indulge in the Christmas spirit, I would highly recommend making an account here on Medium and subscribing to my page. You can also leave applause, engage with thousands of other wonderful authors, and curate your feed to get the stories you want. Thank you!

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