To cope with man problems, L.A. movie trailer-maker Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and London wedding reporter Iris (Kate Winslet) decide to switch houses for two weeks (they decide this spontaneously on the Internet). Conveniently, Iris' bro (Jude Law) takes to Amanda, and Iris quickly meets a well-meaning film composer (Jack Black).
Big question: Can a winning romantic comedy come from writer-director Nancy Meyers' ("Something's Gotta Give") contrived premise?
Skip it: There hasn't been a movie so in love with love since "Love, Actually," but "The Holiday" really seeks only the kind of circumstantial movie love that comes along at just the right time for women who couldn't manage on their own. Iris' plotline lacks passion, and Black, looking uncomfortable as such a calm, nice guy, becomes a big marshmallow ball of blandness.
Catch it: For the fantasy world in which not only can you take off work with no advance notice, but make an online agreement with a total stranger and have only good things come your way!
Bottom line: The thing about happy endings is you often don't care how the movie arrives there, and Diaz and Law are so fetching they almost win you over. But with the use of kids and senior citizens, "The Holiday" goes for drippy, excruciating cuteness on the level of teddy bears who tickle you, tuck you in and sing you to sleep.
Bonus: Amanda is bugged by her compulsive need to conceive of her life as a movie trailer, but it's an excellent way to make your problems seem more interesting than they really are!
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
Written and directed by Nancy Meyers; cinematography by Dean Cundey; edited by Joe Hutshing; production design by Jon Hutman; music by Hans Zimmer; produced by Meyers and Bruce A. Block. A Columbia Pictures release. Running time: 2:11. MPAA rating: PG-13 (sexual content and some strong language).
Amanda -- Cameron Diaz
Iris -- Kate Winslet
Graham -- Jude Law
Miles -- Jack Black
Arthur -- Eli Wallach
Ethan -- Edward Burns
Jasper -- Rufus SewellCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times