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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Marina Morgan

The Holiday (2006)

It’s always those attractive celebrities who need the most love during the holidays.

Iris (Kate Winslet) and Amanda (Cameron Diaz) are both women who seem to be going through the same sorts of problems, even though both live in different countries. The former is from London, and had an affair with a man (Rufus Sewell) who has just recently gotten engaged; whereas the later is L.A.-bound and has a boyfriend (Edward Burns) who cheated on her. They both feel hopeless and upset, and with it being the holidays, they have no clue what to do next with their lives other than sit around, mope, and cry. However, Amanda has an idea that will also affect Iris: She wants to take a trip to London and Iris wants to take a trip to L.A. So the two concoct a plan where they’ll switch residencies for the time being and live in the other’s shoes. This all happens, but what surprises them both is how they end up meeting new people and, believe it or not, start striking up some romances of their own. Iris starts to see a film composer, Miles (Jack Black), whereas Amanda starts to hook-up with Iris’ brother, Graham (Jude Law). Both are happy and enjoying their time together, but the reality is that they’ll eventually have to get back to their real lives, and it’s something that may keep the relationship’s away from being anything more than just “some fun”.

She's attractive.

She’s attractive.

And honestly, that’s all there really is to this movie in terms of complications or tension. There’s no big twist thrown at the end to throw the whole plot and/or its characters into a whirl-wind of chaos, nor is there any sort of hurdle that these characters have to get over in order to make themselves feel fulfilled. It’s honestly just a bunch of hot-looking, attractive people, flirting, dating, smooching, sexxing, and then, oh wait, having to then come to terms with the fact that they’ll be living in separate parts of the world in a few days.

That’s it.

A part of me should be pleased that writer/director Nancy Meyers didn’t try too hard to make this movie anymore complicated than it needed to be. So rarely do we get movies that are literally about, what it’s about, and don’t try to stray too far away from that original-plot. So in that general aspect, Meyers does a fine job of giving the audience, exactly what they’re seeking for.

But at the same time, there still needs to be a bit more of a plot to make up for the fact that this movie is over two-hours long. However, it’s not the kind of two hours that flies on by because of the company the movie keeps; it’s every bit, every hour, every minute, and every second of two hours and 16 minutes, which is to say that it definitely needed to be trimmed-down in certain areas. The main which being the scenes that Iris has with her older neighbor (played by the late, great Eli Wallach). Don’t get me wrong, these scenes are nice, charming, and sweet, but as a whole, they don’t really add much to the final product; we just sort of see that Iris is a kind, loving and caring gal that’s nice to old men.

Once again, that’s it.

The scenes that she has with Jack Black’s Miles, tell more about her, her personality, and the kind of lover she is – the scenes she has with Wallach, thankfully, do not. However, Winslet, as usual, is as lovable as she’s ever been; it certainly helps that Iris is a strong-written character to begin with, but it also has to do a great deal with the fact that Winslet can handle both the comedy, as well as the more dramatic-aspects of the script, whenever she’s called on to do so.

He's attractive.

He’s attractive.

Diaz herself is quite fine as Amanda and also does the same as Winslet does: She balances out both the heavier, as well as the lighter material well enough to where her character stays consistent with the movie’s emotions. It’s not a huge shocker to know that I’m not a big fan of Diaz, but she’s actually quite enjoyable to watch here, because she doesn’t always over-do her act. Her character may be a bit stuck-up, but that’s the point; to see the cracks and light in her personality shine through, makes her all the more likable and sympathetic, regardless of where she comes from.

But this isn’t just a lady’s affair, because the men who do show up, also give their own, little two cents to make the Holiday work a bit more than it should. Black isn’t as grating as he usually is, and Law, the handsome devil that he awfully is, also shows certain layers deep inside of a character that could have probably been as dull as a box of hammers. Thankfully, he isn’t and it helps the relationship that his character and Diaz’s strike-up.

Problem is, though, it’s that run-time.

Also, not to mention that the movie doesn’t really make any reason for its existence. There are a few occasions where it’s funny, but for the most part, it’s just particularly nice. Nice does not mean “funny” – it just means that the movie can be seen by practically all audiences, regardless of age. Nancy Meyers always makes these sorts of movies and while they may not necessarily be lighting the world on fire, they’re just pleasant enough to help any person watching, get by. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man, a woman, a kid, an adult, a senior citizen, gay, straight, bisexual, married, single, widowed, engaged, in a “it’s complicated“, or whatever. All persons from all walks of life can enjoy a Nancy Meyers movie.

That alone does not make them amazing pieces of film – it just makes them accessible.

Consensus: With a likable cast and fluffy-direction from Nancy Meyers, the Holiday is fine to watch and relax to, even despite it being way too long, and feeling as such.

5.5 / 10

Aw, bloody hell! They're all attractive!

Aw, bloody hell! They’re all attractive!

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins

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Wimbledon (2004)

Tennis is for wimps, although football doesn’t seem like the type of sport that reels women in. Never mind then.

When it came to being the supreme star in the world of tennis, Peter Colt (Paul Bettany) was never quite that person, but he came pretty damn close back in the day, when he was ranked #15 in the world. Years later, he’s ranked #115. Yeah, time changes, people get older, and skills start to deplete over time, but Pete isn’t letting too much of it go to his head as he plans on making his latest-trip to Wimbledon, most likely his last one as he continues to let more and more people know that he is in fact “retiring from the world of tennis”. Sounds all depressing and whatnot for Pete, but then walks in Lizzie Bradbury (Kirsten Dunst), a bright-and-shining star in the tennis world that is not only making her name known, but her look as well, especially in the eyes of Pete who just so happens to find Lizzie’s presence and likeness of him, help out his game a bit more and make tennis seem more like a fun, competitive-game for him once again, rather than just a chore.

Rom-coms and tennis are my least two favorite things in the world; put them together, you have a movie that’s just not for me, but yet, I still found myself oddly-attracted to. I don’t know how it happened, but I actually found myself sitting down on my couch in front of the Television, checking out Encore On Demand, finding this, and thinking, “Why the hell not?” and at least giving it a try. After witnessing this movie for all that it is, I feel like I should make random, aimless decisions like this more often, especially if they make my day just a bit sunnier. Even if it is the hot, summa time.

Woah! Tennis is actually FUN and INTENSE!??!!?

Woah! Tennis is actually FUN and INTENSE!??!!?

Everything you expect to happen in a movie like this, whether it be a rom-com or a romantic-dramedy (don’t know how to shorten that one up); happens exactly like you’d expect it to be. The initial-meeting between these two characters is hokey and contrived; the tennis scenes where Pete begins to feel the sensation come all throughout his body once again was seen from a mile-away (because honestly, who wants to see a movie where the lead character gets his ass kicked-out in the first round?); and once things begin to look bright for Pete, you realize that he’s going to end up facing somebody that’s supposed to mean a whole bunch to him and causing the most problems throughout most of the majority of the flick.

Yeah, I know a lot of you out there are probably going to be pissed off that I already spoiled all that you’re practically going to see here, but in all seriousness; if you watch the first 10 minutes of this movie and don’t already know what beats it’s going to hit, how and when, then STOP READING. I knew right from the start, I accepted it, and eventually, it’s magic and charm began to work for me in a way I didn’t expect it to. Rom-coms such as this don’t have to change the world or break any new-ground to really hit me and allow me to enjoy myself, they just need to be done right and that’s exactly how this flick is done here: just right.

Sort of like the Goldie Locks story, but instead of having a little, spoiled brat not make up her mind about what soup or bed to eat/use, we have a witty, British guy who’s trying to win over “the girl”, while also trying to win the coveted, Wimbledon tournament. This ones more entertaining and interesting than that sad-sack-of-a-tale, but they do come pretty damn close. Okay, not at all.

Anyway, back to the movie!

But ultimately, I think what struck my interest-level with this movie and had me eventually go for the gold with it was the fact that it had Paul Bettany in a rare, leading role that we so often see him in, let alone use to his advantage to show why he’s such a good actor,  as well as a very underrated one at that. Bettany gives off the same type of master wit and charm we’re so used to seeing and hearing work wonders for Hugh Grant, but it works even better with Bettany, along with the character he’s playing, because the guy’s just generally likable, even from the start. Pete, as you can tell, is not a guy who asks for much in the world, other than a slight-shot at fame once again, some love in his life, and eternal happiness for the rest of it. That’s all there is to this guy and because of that aspect of this character, and the way Bettany allows him to be perceived as, the movie’s a lot better to sit-through because we see, what seems to be a real guy, going through real problems, and wanting to have real solutions, to his said real life. This is where Bettany shines, not just by making us laugh or want to give this guy a hug, but also show why more and more Hollywood producers should take a look at him when they’re thinking about what next British actor to call next after Colin Firth or Hugh Grant deny a role.

"Love rules! So does tennis! Woo-hoo!"

“Love rules! So does tennis! Woo-hoo!”

And no, I don’t mean these types of opportunities.

While Bettany keeps the movie going, Kirsten Dunst doesn’t show any signs of slowing it down either. Dunst has always been that actress I’ve gone-to-bat for on many occasions, and she’s fine here as Lizzie, even though I feel like she may have just been a bit too young and ambitious with her life to settle-down for such an old-head like Pete, despite the dude being only 32 in the movie. Still, that’s just a weird nit-pick of mine, either way; they’re chemistry is sweet, sexy and worth sticking with this movie for, even if they do feel like they were put together because the studio’s first-choices bailed-out at the last second. Not to be a dick and all, but seriously, I highly doubt that Hollywood producers were clamoring in their seats for the day that they finally got “Mary Jane Watson and that British dude who shows up on the side in every movie” together as love-interests. Just a thought, as mean or as bold as it may be perceived as.

Consensus: Everything you’ve seen done and/or occur before in a rom-com, happens exactly, note-for-note in Wimbledon, but because of fun chemistry between the well-acted leads of Bettany and Dunst, the constant clichés are worth ignoring and/or getting used to, in order just to have a good time with yourself.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"You're that dude who's practically naked all throughout A Knight's Tale, right?"

“You’re that dude who’s practically naked all throughout A Knight’s Tale, right? Yeah, you’re not so hot with your clothes on.”