December means eggnog flavored lattes, city lampposts wrapped in twinkly lights, and, apparently, debates about the legitimacy of everyone’s favorite/not-so-favorite holiday rom-com, Love Actually. But beyond these seasonal traditions lies perhaps an even greater rom-com obsession: The Holiday. Starring Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, and Jack Black, The Holiday is Nancy Meyers’ 2006 flick about two women who swap houses for their Christmas holiday to escape their misfortunes in love, only to (surprise!) discover new love interests and ultimately overcome their greatest vulnerabilities. Like most of Meyers’ films, there are a lot of gorgeous houses and a Hans Zimmer score, plus the secret sauce that is Eli Wallach. More on that later.
The Holiday is not considered a critically-acclaimed movie (it has a 47 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes). Sure the dialogue is sometimes awkward and the romantic scenarios are less than plausible. And yet, I, like so many others, cannot resist it. I have an annual December tradition to watch it in perfect solitude with a box of Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies, and like ZuZu’s petals, it affirms everything is just as it should be and symbolically marks the start of the holiday season.
And I am not alone.
So what is it that keeps so many of us coming back? Is it the idyllic scenery? The little dog that blinks on cue (that you left at home with a total stranger on your holiday, Kate Winslet!)? Is it all the gumption?
If it’s been awhile since you indulged in this holiday treat, fear not. Below I’ve broken down all the reasons why The Holiday is utterly re-watchable.
The houses are delicious
Airbnb should resurrect this movie for subliminal advertising. Who knew an innocent home exchange could land you a Los Angeles mansion fit for Architecture Digest or a house, despite it being in the middle of nowhere, that embodies the name Rosehill Cottage?
We get the side-by-side of Iris and Amanda’s seemingly opposite lives—Amanda’s first class sleeper compared with Iris’s coach seat, Amanda’s sprawling closet compared to Iris’s tiny antique wardrobe—and yet both homes make the perfect backdrop for drinking wine, watching Irene Dunn, and falling in love with strangers. Chic, cozy, just what the Maccabees fought for.
The music is transcendent
Critics have hailed Hans Zimmer as one of the all-time greats just as often as they have called his scores formulaic, but I admit I am helpless under the spell of this one. I dare you to play the “Cry” theme and resist the urge to run through the snow toward your destiny. Go on, I’ll wait.
Also, Imogen Heap. Enough said.
It’s got some classic Jack Black
I want to linger in his scenes, like a second kiss on Iris’s cheek. The commentary in the Blockbuster and at the piano doodle-along feel ad-libbed and refreshing. When he declares about the Santa Ana winds, “all bets are off, anything is possible,” I believe it and feel lifted out of my seat, ever so briefly.
Norman, you’re calling me for pinochle.
It’s also got the most magical tent ever made
Olivia and Sophie, Graham’s daughters and obvious scene-stealers, wear cute sweaters and say cute things in their British accent like “You don’t like tents?” But really, it’s their adeptly constructed magical tulle and sheet tent with cut-out glow-in-the-dark stars that makes us want to lie next to Jude Law stat.
Graham is the most ridiculous character, in the best possible way
When Graham puts his glasses on, he transforms from a guy who sleeps around and breaks poor girls’ hearts—classic case of “no follow-through”—into the sensitive widower “Daddy” book editor.
Also? He’s a major weeper. Here are few things that make Graham cry: a good book, a great film, a birthday card. Also…sex.
All hail, the late, great Eli Wallach
Last but not certainly not least, the legendary Wallach’s Arthur Abbot is clear and away the best part of this movie, infusing a typical rom-com with cheekiness and heart. Arthur guides Iris to find her inner leading lady by introducing her to classic movies like His Girl Friday featuring women with gumption. The greatest emotional payoff comes not from either romantic couple, but from Arthur’s fragile surprise at a theatre full of supporters at his tribute, his hand shaking in his awe and gratitude. Cue the Hans.
I just need a pajama bottom.
And so in the end, we don’t care that these two couples brought together by less than two weeks’ time are still plagued by the challenge of long-distance relationships across the pond. We don’t care about the fact that everyone skips off on cross-continental travel during Christmas week, no less, like they’re hopping a Greyhound bus. It’s The Holiday! ‘Tis the season! Grab those chocolate-covered macaroons, do a home exchange, and watch it over and over again.
(Images via Sony Pictures)