If there was a prize for rehashing the most widely-used clichés and working them all into one drawn-out cheese fest of predictability then 'The Holiday' would be favourite to claim it.
Written and directed by Nancy Meyers, who delights in silly comedy (Previous credits include 'Father of the Bride' and 'The Parent Trap'), this film is the kind of mindless fare that usually clogs up the television schedules over the festive period - the sort of movie that you can easily dip in to and out of every 15 minutes while flicking channels and still remain completely tuned in to the unfolding storylines, if we could call them that.
In short, British social columnist Iris (Winslet) is in love with fellow-journalist Jasper (Sewell), who is just stringing her along as he waits to announce his engagement to someone else. Across the Atlantic in sunny Los Angeles movie trailer director Amanda (Diaz) has just discovered that her live-in boyfriend Ethan (Burns) has been having an affair with his secretary. Both girls are at their wits end, fed with the trials and tribulations of life and love and not looking forward to spending Christmas alone.
So, after having obviously read 'Tara Road', both decide that a house swap is in order. In England, the pretty Amanda is greeted most enthusiastically and drunkenly by Iris' older brother, book editor Graham (Law), while Stateside Iris is welcomed to Hollywood by music composer Miles (Black) and veteran Hollywood legend Arthur Abbott (Wallach).
Further plot details are unnecessary here (or so the scriptwriter thought) - join the large and very obvious dots for a final picture that is not half as eye-catching or exciting as you'd hoped. Originality is a vacant concept, with precious little to keep you guessing here. Kate Winslet and Jack Black keep the plot rolling along with their natural charm, making for a few comic moments, but any spark injected into the movie is quickly smothered in sentimental, corny lines.
Nothing is maximised here - the cast, the wonderland settings or the natural fun of the festive season. Disappointing.