Every year, the battle over Christmas films begins the second Mariah Carey defrosts and declares that ‘it’s time,’ with both sides willing to bet mince pies on whether Bruce Willis is a holiday hero or not.
During this yearly feud, John McClane’s character is thoroughly picked apart in the pursuit of some joyful ‘evidence,’ while one picture appears to go off entirely unscathed, but no longer – it’s time to accept that the Holiday isn’t truly a Christmas film.
Yes, honestly – if you rank Nancy Meyers’ film with Home Alone, Love Actually, Elf, and Miracle on 34th Street, let’s be honest: it has nothing to do with the holiday season.
If you haven’t seen the film, Cameron Diaz plays Amanda, a LA-based movie trailer producer who dumps her cheating boyfriend, Ethan (Edward Burns), and wants to swap places with Kate Winslet‘s Iris, a newspaper columnist with a picturesque cottage in Surrey – who also wants to get away from her newly-engaged, cheating ex, Jasper (Rufus Sewell).
It’s about a vacation, as the title indicates. To be precise, two holidays. Non-seasonal travels that might occur at any time of year.
Jasper could have proposed in the spring, or Ethan could have been unfaithful in the middle of summer, and it wouldn’t have made a difference to the overall bad narrative.
With the exception of a few sequences in the film, most of which involve Amanda sliding in the snow while trekking up to Iris’ cabin, the entire incident could have taken place at any time.
They scarcely discuss Christmas or New Year’s until the very end, when Jack Black’s Miles mysteriously realises he needs to make arrangements and invites himself to Surrey, where he disrupts whatever Iris is up to.
To be fair, it was shot in 2006, so no one had been added to – and then passively aggressively deleted from – a specialised WhatsApp group, but to go two hours into a ‘Christmas’ film and scarcely mention it? Come on, people!
Love Actually is likewise a dreadful ‘festive’ film, but at least there was a countdown and gift-giving talks, with that amazing Rowan Atkinson sequence – however the less said about Joni Mitchell, the better.
The Holiday is devoid of Christmas, but no one seems to notice, and instead we’re exposed to interminable debates over whether Die Hard is an acceptable title for the occasion.
When comparing the two, the action film began on December 24, when John McClane landed at a highly adorned LA airport to spend the holidays with his family. While Christmas music swelled around him, he was practically cradling a gigantic teddy bear.
It also had to be staged around Christmas because of a painstakingly planned theft at a workplace holiday party – Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) required all of the employees to be in the same area, which wouldn’t have been possible during Thanksgiving, summer, or Easter.
We’ll admit that ‘holding people ransom’ doesn’t have the same festive message as Jingle All The Way, but neither does a youngster being left at home alone, forced to fight two robbers…
Furthermore, while Die Hard is mostly an action picture, it also has a wonderful love tale about a strong New York police officer flying across the nation to be with his wife and family, defeating oppressors, putting aside their differences, and spending the Christmas together.
That beats whatever Amanda and Iris had planned for Christmas any day…