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I’m aiming to get a list of some sort up on Mondays. Since I’ve finally watched ten movies released this year, here’s my first top ten movies of the year list. I could see the argument that The Counterfeiters should count as last year because of the Oscars, but let’s face it, it shouldn’t. Also, I really loved Rambo. I can’t help but think that those who didn’t don’t understand the core of what an action movie should be. Or, at the very least, have wildly different expectations about actions movies than I do.

Broadly speaking, the first four belong in a tier, then the next four, then then last two.

  1. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
  2. Rambo
  3. In Bruges
  4. Iron Man
  5. Run Fatboy Run
  6. The Promotion
  7. The Counterfeiters
  8. How She Move
  9. The Bank Job
  10. 21

So, I may have borne The Holiday some ill will because it screwed me a little in an early Fantasy Moguls league. What? A Nancy Meyers movie at the holidays with Kate Winslet. It should have been gold! But a year and a half later, I probably have that out of my system. Mostly.

Kate Winslet is a British newspaper reporter who still hasn’t gotten over a relationship she had with a co-worker (Rufus Sewell) three years ago. Upon finding he’s engaged, she decides needs to escape. Cameron Diaz plays an expert movie trailer designer (which, OK, is kinda cool) living in Hollywood who has a bad breakup with her boyfriend (Ed Burns) and decides she needs to escape. They go online and swap houses for two weeks. When Kate gets to Hollywood, she runs into an old screenwriter (Eli Wallach) who becomes her friend and meets a movie score composer (Jack Back) and his girlfriend (Shannyn Sossamon), who have a rocky relationship. When Cameron get to England, she meets Kate’s brother (Jude Law).

That’s more backstory than I like to give, but I do it to make a point. That right there is, basically, the entire movie. There’s the barest of tension or arc. There are maybe three critical moments in the movie, none of which feel gut-wrenching. Meyers’s script is otherwise fluid and generally moves along, but I suppose I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is clever. The problem wasn’t that the movie was predictable (not that I usually find that a problem), it was that there wasn’t even anything to predict, really. The trailer voiceovers that popped in every so often for Diaz’s character were a neat quirk. I might have liked to see the device mirrored for Winslet, or the playfulness permeate a bit more throughout, but that’s a very minor dispute.

The actors are generally solid. Kate Winslet can’t help but be awesome. I’m not opposed to Cameron Diaz. I think she does slapstick very well, for example. Not sure she adds much here. Jude Law is as devilishly handsome as always. Basically same as Alfie, only with no topless Sienna Miller (What? That’s an important fact!). I’m a fan of Jack Black taking on more serious roles. I don’t think this one is a perfect fit, but it definitely works. Shannyn Sossamon in the movie for long, but I’ve been swooning for her since 40 Days and 40 Nights, and nothing has changed on that front.

But the star, in my book, is Eli Wallach (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, among a million different awesome things, including a guest shot on Studio 60). He’s always been a haunting character actor, and it is good to see nothing has changed in his old age. Wallach’s character is a refreshing take on comic relief and one of the movie’s few high points.

There are a few really awesome bit parts. John Krasinski has about 30 seconds of screen time as one of Diaz’s assistants. Dustin Hoffman gets kinda meta in a cameo. And James Franco and Lindsay Lohan show up as…well…I won’t ruin it, but it relates to Diaz’s job, and it is pretty hilarious.

I will say I have a friend whose opinion I generally trust, and who generally has a similar taste me in movies such as these did enjoy the movie. Which won’t get me to change my opinion, but perhaps those of the female ilk might find ways to appreciate the movie, ways that I just couldn’t. She made a really excellent point about the movie, something I didn’t catch (shocking, right?). But it only really makes sense to anyone who has seen the movie, and I can’t imagine anyone reading this has. I’ll share in the comments, if there is popular demand.

Trailer after the jump. And it reminds me that the movie has the goofiest IM chat since You’ve Got Mail. Read the rest of this entry »

May 2008