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I love romantic comedies. There. I've said it. I buy them on DVD and hide them behind copies of The Deer Hunter and 28 Days Later Okay. Mock at will

Unfortunately not every romantic comedy is When Harry Met Sally which means that I watch some truly terrible films. Tonight was Maid In Manhattan, starring Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes and some sparkly-eyed wee sprite of a kid who was clearly there for cuteness value.

However dreadful J-Lo's music and men choices are, she's never struck me as a bad actress but she could not lift this from the mire of a plain not-funny script and the choice of Ralph Fiennes as a romantic lead.

I'm sorry, Fiennes is very handsome and not nearly as wet as his brother, but there's something cold about him when he tries to play romantic comedy. Say what you will about Hugh Grant (and the words "humility-deficient, one-note, floppy-fringed, hooker-schtupping manwhore" spring to mind) at least when he stutters over some profession of love to his leading lady, you don't expect his next words to be "and that's why I've decided to kill you all" or similar, as you do when Fiennes says it.

It's possible I am being unfair to Ralph Fiennes -- he was exceptional, sympathetic and underrated in The Constant Gardener, but even then there was that glint of bad-crazy, "avada kedavra-you-soon-as-look-at-you" in his eyes.

Terrifyingly awful film #2 of the weekend was The Holiday, which managed to have arse-all plot, be rampantly unfunny *and* waste the talents of Kate Winslet, Jack Black and Jude Law, which is quite the achievement.



Now this is a film about a newspaper columnist, Iris, who works at the Telegraph whose awful taste in men means that she has been moping after a tosspot Big Name Columnist for three years. How she manages to afford the council tax and commuting costs of her lovely cottage in the country we do not know, but I suspect Old Money. (Her brother, played by Jude Law, is certainly very well-housed for a book editor, but I digress with all this vile New Labour-style property envy.) After all she does work at The Torygraph. However, I *can* tell her that if she tries to get home from the Telegraph to Surrey by walking that way along the South Bank, she'd be fucked, no matter how picturesque the House of Commons looks behind her.

To attempt to shake off her adoration for said tosspot BNC, she arranges a holiday swap with Cameron Diaz, fabulously wealthy maker of Hollywood trailers, for two weeks over Christmas. Diaz, who couldn't have overacted more if she were in an Ed Wood production, is the very incarnation of the cliched, screechy, needy, spoilt diva, which makes me think that perhaps Nancy Meyers is taking the piss out of someone she knows. She has a Tragic Past (TM), is pathologically unable to cry and is going out with Tosspot #2, played by Ed Burns.

There was an interminable scene of them screeching at each other while in their jim-jams which had me thinking fondly of avant garde opera, the sound of pneumatic drilling at 7am or other more soothing and interesting things. So anyway, Diaz leaves Tosspot #2 and swaps places with Iris. You see where this is going, don't you?

So Diaz meets Jude Law and asks him for no-strings sex, which at least proves there's nothing wrong with her eyesight. It took about three weeks to get to this point.

Every time she makes a decision, there's a trailer voiceover, which was admittedly mildly amusing the first time it happened, but by the last time I was wishing for a voiceover that said "and then she got hit by a double-decker bus". Because I was totally rooting for that ending by about halfway through the movie.

Meanwhile Kate Winslet's character, who has a spine made of blancmange at this stage, befriends a composer called Miles, played by Jack Black. I admit, I have a Jack Black problem: I totally buy him as a romantic lead and would not kick him out of bed for eating crisps. There. I've said that too. Please don't tell me things that will put me off him.

She also befriends a writer from the great age of Hollywood, Arthur, who is Lonely and Cranky With A Foul Mouth But Has A Heart Of Gold And A Message For Our Heroine. You will notice that mean/bitter/crazy elderly people in these films always turn out to have a heart of gold and seldom smell of widdle even if they have the obligatory cats. Funny how often that doesn't happen in real life.

Actually that's gratuitously mean because if the film had been all about the crazy adventures of Arthur and Iris and Miles I would have loved it. But nooooooo. We had to return to Miss Apocalyptically Bad At Life And Unable To Commit and her continuing shagathon with Jude Law, who turns out to be too good to be true by a country mile and have two adorable little moppets. And his wife is dead! How lucky was that?

By this stage the film had lasted approximately a geological aeon so I went to the bog and missed Cameron Diaz's admission that she was indeed unable to commit or cry or some such bollocks but I was happy in the knowledge that this would have no impact on the story.

So anyway, inconsequential stuff happens and England looks pretty in the snow, yet none of it is yellow and the trains run on time -- thus proving that this is a fantasy, la la la. By this stage several of the audience in the cinema have passed away believing that we are approaching the heat death of the universe, the film feels so long.

Then suddenly, kaboom, there is some "amusing" phone business which you've all seen in the trailer (Kate Winslet used the word "knickers". How I howled with laughter!) then Diaz is leaving and starts crying at the thought of leaving sexy, sexy Jude Law, and climbs out of her chauffeured limo to run to him over the snow-dusted hills of Surrey. Iris suddenly acquires a spine Re: Tosspot Big Name Columnist and forgets Arthur totally but that's okay. Meanwhile Jack Black's girlfriend is conveniently unfaithful so he dumps her and runs off to England to spend NewYear with Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Cameron Diaz and the Adorably Tousled Moppets. Who are actually pretty adorable for movie kids but I don't want to admit that either.

There then follows a montage of New Year celebration so dazzlingly saccharine and vomitous that I almost hoped that a meteorite struck their house as Big Ben chimed and wiped them off the face of the earth. I would have applauded that ending. Alas, after another million years (approx.) of grinning and dancing and quaffing expensive brandy, the credits rolled and no one had kicked the bucket.

So, The Holiday. Do not go and see it. It is shite. Why do I do it to myself? Answers on a postcard please.

Ah, think yourself lucky. This entry could have been about bras.

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Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
ropo
Jan. 7th, 2007 02:17 am (UTC)
Yeah, I could have told you about "Maid in Manhattan." I felt exactly the same way. J-Lo was fine, Ralph was miscast like crazy. I have skipped your thoughts on "The Holiday" because I want to see it. I will pretend I don't know you didn't like it. *g*
infinitemonkeys
Jan. 7th, 2007 02:20 am (UTC)
Go see it, then get hold of me on IM or gmail (my address is thescribbler at well, you know) and I will sympathise
comice
Jan. 7th, 2007 02:22 am (UTC)
:: loves you madly ::

Why are you not a professional movie reviewer? WHY?

I think that you should review romantic comedy movies every day, merely for my amusement. And that way, I'd probably find some actually good ones that I'd missed.

Mind you, I come from a family of women where after some apocryphally bad Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks crapfest (the one where they're talking on e-mail at first -- is that You've Got Mail -- and he's ultimately responsible for her having to close her mother's bookstore and oh, how I sobbed when that happened and then? She Married Him. As fucking if.), my next youngest sister L stood up after the close of the film and yelled, "This is the kind of crap that rots women's brains!"

But if it had been any good at all, we would have loved it.

P.S. Looking forward to your treatise on bras.

infinitemonkeys
Jan. 7th, 2007 10:50 am (UTC)
I think that you should review romantic comedy movies every day, merely for my amusement. And that way, I'd probably find some actually good ones that I'd missed.

That would be a top job. Perhaps a bunch of us could get ourselves into a panel and do it for a living and then deliver fair and balanced reviews *g*

Mind you, I come from a family of women where after some apocryphally bad Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks crapfest (the one where they're talking on e-mail at first -- is that You've Got Mail -- and he's ultimately responsible for her having to close her mother's bookstore and oh, how I sobbed when that happened and then? She Married Him. As fucking if.), my next youngest sister L stood up after the close of the film and yelled, "This is the kind of crap that rots women's brains!"

Please tell your sister if she had done that when I watched You've Got Mail I would have applauded. Loudly. Possibly cheered. and yet I still go to see Meg Ryan films. It's WHMS prestige transference. Why, oh Lord, why?
comice
Jan. 9th, 2007 01:34 pm (UTC)
Perhaps a bunch of us could get ourselves into a panel and do it for a living and then deliver fair and balanced reviews *g*


:: drools ::

Oh yes, that would be awesome.

Sister L actually did get applause at the theatre, and not just from our sisterhood (by birth and friendship). I'm glad to add you to our sorority!
se_parsons
Jan. 8th, 2007 02:01 am (UTC)
To cleanse your brain of the "You've Got Mail" badness, just watch the original with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan - "The Shop Around the Corner." It's truly charming and has everything cool about it that the new version lacks. Like equity in the lead's situations and wit and heart.
comice
Jan. 9th, 2007 01:35 pm (UTC)
I'll definitely check this out -- I never wanted to see it because the remake was so loathesome.
hesychasm
Jan. 7th, 2007 02:42 am (UTC)
I'm with you on romantic comedies. I think J.Lo's worst was...the one with Matthew McCaughney, oh, The Wedding Planner. DO NOT WATCH EVER, if you wish to preserve the integrity of your brain. And I agree that on the whole Ralph was miscast in Maid in Manhattan, but I think he had good chemistry with the kid who played her son. I can't help but love their little Q&A session at the end.

Haven't seen The Holiday yet, may wait for, ahem, other copies to find their way into my hands.
infinitemonkeys
Jan. 7th, 2007 10:52 am (UTC)
You see now I know it's terrible I almost want to watch it just to yell at the TV. You're right about his chemistry with the kid, though, that was not bad.

The Holiday didn't do it for me but it's had decent reviews here and made a bit of money so it's probably worth ahem-ing just to see what you think. After all, you are a fellow connoisseur. *g*
aud_woman_in
Jan. 7th, 2007 02:58 am (UTC)
Re: The Holiday
I cannot contradict anything you have to say about this movie. Underwritten and overacted (except by Mr Black), its only saving plot grace is that, despite newspaper writer Winslet having achieved a physical-therapy miracle on old crankypants in just a few days, he was not killed off. However. I admit to having liked it.

It reminds me very much of the lesser screwball comedies of the '30s, that occasionally turn up on the classic movie channel, made so that people could forget how bad life outside the theatre was: Everyone is attractive and most are charming and everyone has money and everywhere they go and everything they wear is lovely.

And this, of course, is the exact reason I went to see it (at a matinee!), rather than say, The Good Shepherd or Babel or Blood Diamond or Little Children.

If it turns up in the $5.99 bin next summer, I might even buy it, so that it may join its cousins, Drive Me Crazy, Return to Me and, yes, You've Got Mail on the shelf behind Adaptation and Good Night and Good Luck.
infinitemonkeys
Jan. 7th, 2007 10:55 am (UTC)
Re: The Holiday
You are much more fair than me. And I also went to see it at an afternoon showing so I could tell myself that it wasn't *proper* movie-going. Glad to know that I am not the only one who hides the slightly embarrassing DVDs. I also put the books that make me look clever downstairs and keep the romances upstairs. I should just cop to it *g*
corianderstem
Jan. 7th, 2007 03:12 am (UTC)
"...at least when he stutters over some profession of love to his leading lady, you don't expect his next words to be "and that's why I've decided to kill you all" or similar, as you do when Fiennes says it."

Ha ha HAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
k2daisy
Jan. 7th, 2007 03:50 am (UTC)
Say what you will about Hugh Grant (and the words "humility-deficient, one-note, floppy-fringed, hooker-schtupping manwhore" spring to mind) at least when he stutters over some profession of love to his leading lady, you don't expect his next words to be "and that's why I've decided to kill you all" or similar, as you do when Fiennes says it.

I love Ralph Fiennes, but I love you more.

That said, I worry about your Jack Black thing.
infinitemonkeys
Jan. 7th, 2007 10:55 am (UTC)
I worry about the Jack Black thing too. But there it is. I am helpless.
minnow1212
Jan. 7th, 2007 03:53 am (UTC)
:)

Poor Ralph Fiennes. Maybe if he were in a romantic comedy with a crazy lady?
vonniek
Jan. 7th, 2007 05:42 am (UTC)
Ralph Fiennes was funny and charming (in a slightly crazy way) in Oscar And Lucinda, which had a much better script and a more compatible leading lady (Cate Blanchett.) He had a bit of a wounded-lamb thing going on in that movie -- no potential serial-killer in sight. I highly recommend it.

K., you should do movie reviews for living! I was thisclose to watching "The Holiday" today but changed my mind and watched "Children of Men" (OMG) instead.
infinitemonkeys
Jan. 7th, 2007 10:57 am (UTC)
I look forward to hearing what you thought of The Children of Men. And I should probably see if I can track down Oscar and Lucinda, because I do like Ralph Fiennes as an actor.
se_parsons
Jan. 8th, 2007 01:56 am (UTC)
Let me second the rec for "Oscar and Lucinda." It's just terrific.
kirbyfest
Jan. 7th, 2007 04:38 am (UTC)
humility-deficient, one-note, floppy-fringed, hooker-schtupping manwhore

The only way I could love you more is if you were George Clooney.

I would have liked The Holiday if it was just the Winslet storyline, but the Diaz storyline made me want to fling myself off the nearest cliff. I focused on staring at Jude Law during those parts. Winslet, I've decided, is an actress who can sell me on just about anything; I just like watching her.

And while I'm not always a Jack Black fan, I did notice in this film that his comic timing is flawless. Utterly flawless.

And you are so right-- the move DID NOT END OMGWTFBBQ.
infinitemonkeys
Jan. 8th, 2007 10:24 pm (UTC)
the Diaz storyline made me want to fling myself off the nearest cliff

YES! Lord, they made her so unappealing. Cameron Diaz should sue someone *g*. But you're right about Kate Winslet, she seems very likeable -- or failing that, watchable
(Deleted comment)
infinitemonkeys
Jan. 8th, 2007 10:08 pm (UTC)
If it had had wife-swapping or husband-swapping I might have been more intrigued. ;)
muridae_x
Jan. 7th, 2007 08:58 am (UTC)
I saw a trailer for The Holiday when I went to see The Prestige. It was long and boring enough to tell me the entire plot and convince me I didn't need to go and see the film itself.

It'd be The Deer Hunter that I'd tuck away out of embarrassment, I think. Worthy, but dull, dull, dull. Or maybe that was just the boyfriend who took me to see it.
infinitemonkeys
Jan. 8th, 2007 10:10 pm (UTC)
That was the plot and all of the decent jokes, basically. I wish I had caught The Prestige instead, except it's not out at the local megaplex.

I like The Deer Hunter well enough but you're right about it being a damned long film
parthenia14
Jan. 7th, 2007 09:56 am (UTC)
I unfairly decided up front that it would be terrible because it's set at Christmas (but can't use the word Christmas)... but mostly because it's got Jude Law in it and I've never seen him act convincingly in anything.

*is giggling over Ralph Fiennes transforming into Voldemort halfway through*

But jeez, the plot. It's like those chicklit novels with the watervolour covers.
infinitemonkeys
Jan. 8th, 2007 10:11 pm (UTC)
It's a very chicklit, cotton-candy sort of thing but old Jude isn't bad. He was good in Anthony Minghella's very talky, implausible Breaking and Entering too, which I enjoyed -- though it was 3/4 of an hour too long as well
lilydale
Jan. 7th, 2007 12:07 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry you endured The Holiday, but not too sorry because it led to this entry. Thank you, Hugh Grant and Ralph Fiennes.
infinitemonkeys
Jan. 8th, 2007 10:12 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed disliking it, somehow *g*
se_parsons
Jan. 8th, 2007 01:54 am (UTC)
Oh lord.

I quite like the romantic comedies, too. If they're decently written or acted, but most of them are SO DIRE.

I totally agree with you about the Ralph Fiennes as romantic comedy lead, btw. I caught that hideous mess you watched on cable and stared in horror. And, oH YES, does he seem about ready to kill at all times. I kept expecting him to push J Lo out the window of the hotel or something.

I will be sure to skip, "The Holiday". Egad.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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