In other words The Holiday probably falls under the “guilty pleasure” category. Its not a classic romantic comedy by any standards but darn it it still makes you smile more often than you want to admit. The story centers on two women: Iris (Kate Winslet) a British newspaper columnist hopelessly in love with a man about to marry someone else and Amanda (Cameron Diaz) a highly successful L.A. career woman who just broke up with her latest cheating boyfriend. Being at the right place at the right time these two gals meet online at a home exchange website and impulsively switch homes for the holiday. Shortly after arriving at their destinations both women find the last thing either wants or expects: A new romance. Amanda is charmed by Iris' handsome brother Graham (Jude Law) and Iris with inspiration provided by legendary screenwriter Arthur (Eli Wallach) mends her heart when she meets film composer Miles (Jack Black). Oh just go ahead and take a big gooey bite. It’s good for the soul. The biggest problem in The Holiday is unfortunately the casting—which is real shame because you really want the chemistry to zing. They get it right with Winslet and Law who are both trying something a little different as romantic leads. Winslet in fact admitted to Reuters this was one of the more nerve-wracking parts she’s ever played because she couldn’t hide behind an American accent or a costume playing someone closer to well herself. But you would think these two Oscar-nominees had been making these type movies all along especially the insanely gorgeous Law who should have every woman swooning with his sensitivity. Where they get it wrong is with the Americans as the Brits just act giant circles around them. Black is clearly out of place. Although being very charming and funny looking like he made Winslet laugh a LOT (and who wouldn’t with that guy around?) their connection on screen is somewhat amiss. Diaz comes off looking even worse. Even though she’s the veteran of the romantic comedy (There's Something About Mary My Best Friend's Wedding) her screechy neurotic klutzy Amanda is in no way appealing. You have to scratch your head wondering why Law’s Graham would fall so hard for her. What does make The Holiday work however is writer/director Nancy Meyers. She’s proven herself quite adept at the genre with films such as What Women Want and Something's Gotta Give under her belt. With The Holiday Meyers skillfully crafts individual moments of refreshing comedy as well as heartening scenes of blossoming romance. The initial seduction scene between Amanda and Graham is particularly sweet and quirky with the crisp dialogue flying at a nice clip. And isn’t it comforting to see a holiday movie minus feuding neighbors commerciality or any sort of mean-spiritedness? But Meyers has the tendency to go more for the superficial rather than dig deep with her characters. The Holiday has a one of those glossy rosy glows whose only aim is to make you feel good. True the film will mostly speak volumes to the women in the audience (that’s a polite way of saying its a “chick flick”) but oh well. It’s fluff may be a nice reprieve during the hustle and bustle of the season.
Talk about pressure. When LAPD hostage negotiator extraordinaire Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis) has a bad day lives are lost--and it is after one particularly bad day that Talley decides he's had it with the job. Plagued by guilt he relocates his family and becomes the police chief of a sleepy northern California town. But it's about to be woken up. Corrupt accountant Walter Smith (Kevin Pollak) and his two kids--teenager Jennifer (Michelle Horn) and grade schooler Tommy (Jimmy Bennett)--are taken hostage in their house after a carjacking attempt by a trio of young punks goes awry. Talley is forced to step in once again as the hostage negotiator. Why you may ask since he is now just a lowly police man? Because it turns out Talley's family is being held captive by Walter's superiors who need to get something very important out of the house. They demand the seasoned Talley take control of the situation before things get really ugly. And they do get ugly.
I'm sure Willis would say he agreed to play yet another reluctant hero whose family is in danger because the concept was intriguing. But we all know he probably made Hostage for the money. However Willis is still an appealing actor and a tried and true action star. He infuses Talley with his usual quiet strong demeanor which inevitably turns tortured--and then revengeful--when things go badly. Another standout includes Ben Foster (HBO's Six Feet Under) who does a nice job as Mars the most demented and brutal of the three kidnappers. Not only is the cold-blooded Mars on the edge but he's also some kind of a super delinquent who's able to knock out police cars professional hit men and the like with ease. Scary what they teach kids these days. Willis' daughter Rumer also gets some screen time as Talley's sullen daughter--but since she doesn't get to say much the jury is still out on whether she's inherited any of her parents' acting skills.
Hostage unfortunately takes a good idea and ruins it. To his credit French director Florent Siri who is best known in his native country for crime thrillers seems to understand about building the tension. The Smiths' isolated fortress situated in the hills is a perfect place to piece together the action-thriller ingredients: the shell-shocked cop trying not to repeat his past mistakes; the novice in-over-their-heads kidnappers lead by a trigger-happy psychopath; the resourceful and brave young hostages on the inside; and the menacingly ominous outside influences. But Hostage ends up taking these well-placed elements and running them into the ground. The film starts to drag in its logistical inconsistencies. Why don't the corporate baddies just come in and blow everyone away from the beginning? They obviously have the means to do so. But no. We are instead subjected to Willis running around trying to outsmart everyone natch while having heartbreaking conversations with the precocious little boy inside the house. When things finally do come to a head we are left with a severely over-the-top overtly bloody climax.
The Whole Ten Yards picks up about two years after the events that changed the lives of Oz (Matthew Perry) Jimmy "The Tulip" (Bruce Willis) Jill (Amanda Peet) and Cynthia (Natasha Henstridge)--and made them a whole lot richer. Nice-guy dentist Oz is now married to Jimmy's ex-wife Cynthia and living in Brentwood Calif. where he still practices dentistry. They seem happy but Oz is so paranoid someone will come after him that he keeps an arsenal of weapons in his home which is teeming with high-tech surveillance equipment. His suspicions however are not so farfetched: Turns out Cynthia is in cahoots with Jimmy who is now married to Jill and living in Mexico and they're planning to rob Hungarian mobster Lazlo Gogolak (Kevin Pollak) who's just been released from prison. But Lazlo has an agenda of his own. He wants to kill Jimmy for the murder of his son rival hitman Yanni Gogolak a couple of years ago. When Lazlo kidnaps Cynthia to get to Jimmy (he figures Oz will spill the beans on his whereabouts) poor Oz runs off to Mexico and pleads for Jimmy's help. What Oz and Jill don't realize however is that they are part of a much bigger revenge plot against Lazlo perpetrated by their own spouses Jimmy and Cynthia.
The only thing that makes The Whole Ten Yards engaging is the returning cast who have a playful and endearing on-screen chemistry. Willis and Perry are at the forefront reprising their roles as Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudesky and Nicholas "Oz" Oseransky respectively. The actors craft their characters well and uniquely and the conflicting personalities they create--Willis' cool and collected Jimmy and Perry's nervous and scatterbrained Oz--make watching their interactions entertaining. When the two discover that the hostage in the trunk of their car has died for example Willis stands there unflinchingly while Perry yelps "It looks like he got shot in the foot! Who dies from being shot in the foot?" Peet blends in with her own brand of humor; her klutzy character Jill is hilarious without trying to be which is the key to her performance. Jill's hung up on the fact that although she's a professional marksman she's never had a real kill--she's so accident-prone that her targets always die by default. Also returning for the sequel is Pollak who played Yanni in the first film. Here he returns as Yanni's father Lazlo aged with the help of prosthetics and makeup. It's a great idea and the result is pretty funny although the character is cartoonish.
Director Howard Deutch makes a valiant effort with this sequel to the 2000 hit; there's continuity in the characters although their lives have progressed since the events of the last film. The problem with The Whole Ten Yards is its story penned by Mitchell Kapner and George Gallo. While The Whole Nine Yards had an elaborate storyline it was easy enough to follow--everyone was basically trying to kill one another. Here the plot's equally convoluted but rather than interesting twists and turns we get inconsistencies and dead ends. Take Jimmy's new Suzy Homemaker role for instance. As the film opens Willis is traipsing around his Mexican villa in bunny slippers wearing a 'do-rag on his head fussing over dinner and the fact that the potatoes are supposed to be "floating around the lobster not just stuck there." We find out it's all an act but the reasons are never disclosed. By the time the film ends audiences will be asking themselves what it was all for. Perhaps the filmmakers thought the sight of Willis as a dowdy housewife would make moviegoers laugh so hard they'd forget to ask why.
Top Story: Another Osbourne Enters Rehab
Following in brother Jack's footsteps, it's Kelly Osbourne's turn to go into rehab. The 19-year-old daughter of rocker Ozzy Osbourne and wife Sharon entered a California drug rehabilitation clinic Friday to deal with an addiction to painkillers, Reuters reports. Promoting the upcoming third season of MTV's The Osbournes, Sharon Osbourne told CNN's Larry King Live that the couple confronted their daughter early on Friday after the family was contacted by an English tabloid seeking comment on a picture in which Kelly appeared to be buying drugs. "She admitted it after a lot of twisting," she told CNN. "Literally, a couple of hours ago, she was admitted to rehab." Ozzy, an admitted drug addict and alcoholic who has spent time in rehabilitation clinics himself, said he had asked Kelly repeatedly if she used drugs, but she denied it. "I can't believe we were buying into it," he said. "The amount of pills I found in her bag was astounding."
Brown, Houston Get on Reality Wagon
Bobby Brown and wife Whitney Houston are thinking of joining reality--television, that is. USAToday.com reports Brown, and his Atlanta-based production company B2 Entertainment, are shooting a new reality TV series chronicling the Houston/Brown family life, in hopes of selling it to a network. "It's Bobby's project, and he's her husband," Houston spokeswoman Nancy Seltzer told USAToday.com. "Of course she would do it with him." It isn't clear, however, if the show will focus on the troubled couple's recent past, including Houston Mar. 15 drug rehab stint or Brown's court appearance May 5 on battery charges stemming from an altercation with Houston last December as well as his probation violations.
Writers Begin Negotiations
Negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers are set to begin Monday, City News reports. The WGA, whose current three-year contract is due to expire May 2, is expected to demand higher residual payments for its members for DVD and video releases, contracts with "reality television" producers, and increased pension and health insurance contributions, among other things. "While there is no expectation of a strike at this time, the board of directors does want to be prepared in the event contract talks break down,'' the guild advised in a Web site update for members. The last time the WGA went on strike in 1988.
Kids Choose OutKast, Nemo
Disney's smash animated hit Finding Nemo and the hip-hop duo OutKast were the big winners at Nickelodeon's 17th Annual Kids' Choice Awards Saturday, Reuters reports. The show--where 17 million kids voted both online and by telephone for their favorites--was hosted by the upcoming Shrek 2 co-stars Cameron Diaz and Mike Myers, as kids watched voluminous amounts of slime poured onto unsuspecting celebrity presenters. Other winners included Jim Carrey for favorite movie actor and Amanda Bynes as favorite movie actress, while Malcolm in the Middle's Frankie Muniz and Disney Channel's Raven-Symone took favorite TV actor and actress, respectively.
Actress Cannon Suffers Smoke Inhalation
Actress Dyan Cannon suffered smoke inhalation when a fire broke out in her Los Angeles condominium, The Associated Press reports. Los Angeles County fire officials received a call Sunday morning of smoke coming from the building and discovered a fire in Cannon's eighth floor condo. They put out the blaze in about 15 minutes, fire dispatcher Brendon Peart told AP. "According to Ms. Cannon, she was sleeping at the time, and it appears that a fire started, perhaps electrical, in her kitchen," said fire Capt. Steve Martin. "The smoke detector woke her and her dogs up and, luckily, she got out safe," he said. About 200 residents were evacuated, but most of the damage was confined to Cannon's condo, fire officials said.
Rooney Gets WWII Honor
Veteran actor Mickey Rooney, who received a Bronze Star during World War II, was bestowed a special award at the National D-Day Memorial in Virginia for his nearly two years of service in Europe, AP reports. At the same time, the 83-year-old Rooney was also honored with a lifetime achievement award at the Blue-Ridge-Southwest Virginia Vision Film Festival, which honors films made in the state or by Virginians.
Too Much TV May Cause Attention Problems
In a recent study, researchers found that preschoolers who watch too much television, especially before the age of 2, may have attention deficit problems later in life, AP reports. Yet, Jennifer Kotler, assistant director for research at Sesame Workshop, which produces educational children's television programs including Sesame Street, questioned whether the results in the April issue of Pediatrics would apply to educational programming. "We do not ignore this research," but more is needed on variables that could affect the impact of early exposure to television, including whether content or watching TV with a parent makes a difference, Kotler told AP.
Role Call: Miramax Snags Hostage
Miramax Films has acquired the North American rights to the thriller Hostage, starring Bruce Willis. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film, currently shooting in L.A., follows an LAPD hostage negotiator (Willis) who heads to the country after a bloody standoff to take a job as the police chief of a small town. But instead of finding peace, the cop becomes embroiled in negotiations to save his own kidnapped wife and daughter. It also stars Kevin Pollak, Ben Foster, Jonathan Tucker and Serena Scott Thomas.