The Holiday is just one of those movies. The ones that you watch and re-watch, the ones that stay with you no matter how long it has been. I’m not sure I have any specific reason for it, but The Holiday is very firmly on my list of Christmas classics, and it should be on yours too.
And not just for young Jude Law hotness, either, though I will admit that doesn’t hurt.
Back when the movie came out, I remember some pretty horrible reviews, enough that I didn’t watch it right away. There was also the Jack Black of it all – I have never enjoyed another Jack Black movie, and I’m not sure I ever will. But looking back on it, on the movies I’ve enjoyed, there’s something about this one that stands out.
Maybe it’s that this is a romantic comedy about love, yes, but deep down, it’s also a movie about family, and about finding your place in the world with people who love you just for who you are.
Is there anything that gets closer to what we all want to believe the spirit of Christmas is than that?
That isn’t the reason I wanted to review the movie for this year’s Countdown to Christmas, though. The reason I wanted to review the movie was because, in re-watching, I realized what makes The Holiday the perfect 2020 movie: it’s a movie whose greatest message is about the power of self-love.
We have two women who put themselves first, and make the decision to seek out what they want for Christmas. And what they want doesn’t conform to other people’s standards, but that’s okay, because it’s what they want. The world is always ready to judge you for your choices, and Iris and Amanda will just not stand for it.
They will make their own Christmas, the way they choose.
And fine, they will find love while they’re at it, because this is not just a rom-com, it’s a Christmas movie, and there are rules to be followed.
But that the movie is, at its core, about finding your value within yourself, not others, separates this movie from the typical Christmas type movie, and has probably helped it stand the test of time. I see more people talking fondly about it now than I saw back when it came out, and I, for one, have nothing against that.
Part of the original criticism was rooted in – I’ll say it – misogyny. A movie with two female leads, directed by a woman, was easily dismisses as a “chick flick,” with that tone that people ascribed to that term fourteen years ago, as if “chick flick” meant it could not be good, or enjoyable to anything other than romance-addled brains.
The standards have, of course, changed. Especially in the year of our pandemic 2020, we’ve all collectively agreed it’s time to stop being ashamed for liking what we like. Which serves The Holiday well, because it should have always been more highly regarded than it was.
None of this means the movie is perfect – and whose arc you care about more Iris or Amanda, will probably depend on your life experiences – but we’re not judging Oscar worthy here. We’re judging in Christmas movie standards. And in that regard the movie is perfectly predictable, in that comforting old sweater that nonetheless keeps you warmer than anything else way.
It has to be said, however, that the movie will feel dated in some respects and that, as most everything that came out over ten years ago in Hollywood, it is so white it hurts. And yes, as much as we enjoy it, the stakes are not exactly very high, which can get annoying in 2020 – these are both wealthy women with very little to lose.
Not to mention that nary a lose end is actually tied. Is Amanda staying for good? How could she? What about Iris, is she now moving to Los Angeles? How do these relationships actually work in the real world?
Personally, not only do I not know, a part of me doesn’t actually care. This isn’t about what happened after; this is about the escapist Christmas fantasy. That the movie dares to give us that, and a happy ending while still focusing on two women learning to love themselves, well, that’s just the cherry on top of the reasons to give it a try.
Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts on The Holiday? Share with us in the comments below!