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.