Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet), a columnist for The Daily Telegraph in London, has been in love with her co-worker Jasper Bloom (Rufus Sewell) for over three years, despite the fact that he has cheated on her numerous times and the previous break-ups with him. When she learns that he is engaged to another woman, Iris is at a loss for how to move on with her life. Meanwhile, Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz), a workaholic living in Los Angeles, discovers that her long-term boyfriend Ethan Ebbers (Edward Burns) has been cheating on her with his secretary. After breaking up with him, she decides she needs to get away for the Christmas holidays and visits a home-exchange website on which Iris has listed her cottage in Surrey, England. Amanda contacts Iris, and the two women agree to swap homes for two weeks.
While Iris revels in the luxury of Amanda's large Los Angeles home, Amanda is disappointed by the slow, quiet pace of life in Iris's quaint cottage. She grows bored after only a few hours and books a flight home for the following day. Later that night, Iris's brother, Graham (Jude Law), knocks at the door thinking Iris is home. Graham asks Amanda to let him spend the night despite the fact that he is a stranger, as he has been drinking at the pub and doesn't want to drive home. Amanda agrees. After a brief, drunken conversation, they kiss and later end up sleeping together.
In the morning, Graham receives phone calls from Sophie and Olivia, which arouse Amanda's suspicions that Graham has multiple girlfriends. Graham, knowing that Amanda is planning to return home imminently, invites her to dinner later that night if she decides to change her mind, which she later does. They spend time together over the days that follow, but Amanda becomes worried that their relationship will be complicated as she's only living in England for two weeks.
Meanwhile in America, Iris meets Miles Dumont (Jack Black), Ethan's assistant, and later, an elderly neighbour named Arthur Abbott (Eli Wallach). She learns that he was a screenwriter during the Golden Age of Hollywood. The two become friends. Arthur notes that Iris's relationship with Jasper is not serving her well, and he suggests movies for her to watch that include strong female characters, in hopes that she can acquire what he calls "gumption". Back in England, Amanda chooses not to see Graham again but, alone again in the cottage, she has a change of heart and surprises Graham at his house, where she meets his two young daughters, Sophie and Olivia. He reveals he is a widower.
Iris then discovers that the Screenwriters' Guild wants to throw a grand celebration in Arthur's honor, but he is reluctant to attend for several reasons, chief among them being that he cannot walk without the assistance of his walker and does not want to embarrass himself on stage. Iris encourages him to go and promises to help him prepare by undertaking an exercise program together, determined to help him walk without his walker. During this time, Jasper contacts her from England, asking her to assist with the book he is writing. She agrees to look over his pages, but ends up having so much fun with Miles and Arthur that she doesn't have the time.
Iris and Miles slowly become close friends and spend more and more time together. Iris returns to Amanda's house and is surprised to find Jasper at her doorstep. Iris is touched at first and the two spend a cosy night in together, only for Iris to discover he is still engaged to be married. She breaks up with him for good, claiming he has never treated her right and has finally got clarity. Meanwhile, Miles breaks up with his cheating girlfriend also, and rushes to attend Arthur's award ceremony with Iris. The event is filled with attendees standing and applauding Arthur's lifetime of achievements. That, and the music that Miles wrote especially for Arthur for this moment, give him the confidence to walk onto the stage unassisted. Miles asks Iris for a date on New Year's Eve, but she reminds him she will be back in England by then. He agrees to travel to the United Kingdom for her.
Meanwhile, Graham confesses his love for Amanda on the night before she is scheduled to depart, but Amanda is still doubtful that a long-distance relationship will work. On her way to the airport, she realises she feels the same way and returns to the cottage and reunites with Graham. Amanda tells him that she has decided to stay to spend New Year's Eve with him, and they embrace. Iris and Miles celebrate the new year with Amanda and Graham and his two daughters, enjoying the evening, and laughing and dancing together.Cameron Diaz as Amanda Woods:
Amanda is the owner of a prospering business that produces movie trailers. A fan of Meyers' work, Diaz signed on after reading parts of the script. Commenting on her decision to play Amanda, Diaz said that her character "was totally relatable to because we've all had these relationships that fail. But I loved the bravery that she displays. She [...] learns about who she is and opens herself up to possibilities she's never allowed herself to have before. I felt that was such a wonderful message to put out there." Meyers, who envisioned casting her still during the writing process, compared Diaz' performance in the film to Goldie Hawn, complimenting her adeptness at physical comedy: "It's really hard I think to be that cute and sexy and that funny and that sort of girl-friendly [..] She seemed absolutely the right choice for a California girl," she commented. In developing her character, Diaz also improvised on set: "There were a few scenes that were written on the page but then Nancy and I fooled around with them a bit. We didn’t want to take it [the comedy] too broad. We wanted it to be believable, so we included realistic moments," she said.
Kate Winslet as Iris Simpkins:
Iris is a society columnist, writing for The Daily Telegraph
. Winslet was hand-picked by Meyers, who wrote all of Iris' lines with her in mind. A fan of Meyers' previous work on Something's Gotta Give
(2003), Winslet, then primarily known for her portrayals in period films, "loved the idea" of playing a contemporary English woman in a romantic comedy, a genre she had not done before. Winslet said she had initially felt "nervous and [...] scared about trying to be funny" at times, stating that "Jude [Law] and I would speak on the telephone a lot before we started shooting, 'Oh my god, they're going to fire us, they're going to recast, what if we don't make them laugh?" In preparing for her role, Winslet watched screwball comedies from the 1940s, such as His Girl Friday
and The Philadelphia Story
, to study the dialogues and performances.
Jude Law as Graham Simpkins:
Graham is Iris' brother, a book editor, "countryside widower"and single father forced to raise his two daughters (Miffy Englefield as Sophie, and Emma Pritchard as Olivia) by himself after his wife's death. Law accepted the role as he was interested in playing a type of character that he had never played on film before. After his appearances in a string of period dramas and science fiction films in the early to mid-2000s, Law found it tricky to approach the contemporary role of Graham. Like Winslet, the actor stated, he felt more vulnerable about playing a character who fitted his own look and did not require an accent, a costume or a relocation. Meyers, who was not immediately sure if Law was going to fit into the genre and whose character evolved more during the writing than the others, decided to cast him after meeting in which they we went through the script together. In preparing for his role, Meyers sent him a collection of Clark Gable movies to prepare the performance that she wanted in The Holiday
Jack Black as Miles Dumont:
Miles is a Hollywood music composer working with Amanda and an affiliate of her boyfriend Ethan. As with Diaz and Winslet, Meyers specially created the character for Black after watching his performance in the musical comedy film School of Rock
(2003). On his cast, Meyers commented that "when I was thinking of this movie I thought he was someone I would like to write a part for and I'm aware he's not Clark Gable, he's not tall dark and handsome, but he's adorable, he's lovable. It's my way of saying this is the right kind of guy, this is what most guys look like if they're lucky, he's so adorable, and why not?" Cast against type, Black felt "flattered [and] a little bit nervous" about Meyers' approach to star in a rom-com, though he eventually agreed to sign on upon learning that he would play opposite Winslet. While he felt, it was difficult to find the adorable side in his role, Black appreciated Miles' relationship with music: I could relate to that Miles was a film composer and I just got done composing my music for my score. So I knew about that world."
Eli Wallach as Arthur Abbott:
Arthur is Amanda's neighbor, a famous screenwriter from the Golden Age of Hollywood whom Iris befriends. Wallach was 90 years old when The Holiday
was filmed. Meyers found him so animated and energetic on the set, that she had to remind him several times during filming to slow down, move more slowly, and act more like an older man.
Shannyn Sossamon appears as Maggie, Miles' girlfriend and aspiring actress, while Edward Burns plays as Ethan Ebbers, Amanda's boyfriend; Rufus Sewell portrays Jasper Bloom, Iris' on-and-off affair. The film also reunited Sewell and Sossamon as they both starred in A Knight's Tale together, although they do not share a scene. Extended Simpkins family include Miffy Englefield and Emma Pritchard as Sophie and Olivia, Graham's daughters, respectively. The film also cast Bill Macy as Ernie and Shelley Berman as Norman, friends of Arthur, as well as Kathryn Hahn as Bristol and John Krasinski as Ben, Amanda's employees. Jon Prescott appears as Maggie's short-time affair.
Dustin Hoffman appears in the video rental store in an uncredited cameo as Jack Black talks about the score from The Graduate. According to Hoffman, this was unscripted and unexpected. He was going to Blockbuster for a movie, saw all the light and came over to see what was going on. He knew director Nancy Meyers, who scripted a short scene with him in it. Lindsay Lohan, who had made her motion picture debut in Meyers' remake of The Parent Trap (1998), and James Franco, a friend of Meyers, make uncredited appearances in the trailer of the fictional movie Deception, which Amanda and her team finish at the beginning of The Holiday.
Production on The Holiday began in Los Angeles, then moved to England for a month before completing filming back in California. Principal photography began in the Brentwood area on the Westside of Los Angeles, where real Santa Ana winds reportedly gave Meyers and her team a winter day as warm as scripted in the screenplay. Although Amanda's home is set in Brentwood, the exterior scenes at the gated property were actually filmed in front of Southern California architect Wallace Neff's Mission Revival house in San Marino, a suburb adjacent to Pasadena. Neff had built the house for his family in 1928. The interiors of Amanda's house were filmed at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City. Other Los Angeles locations included Arthur's house in Brentwood and Miles' house, designed by Richard Neutra, which is situated on Neutra Place in L.A.'s Silver Lake area, near downtown.
The UK part of the film was partially shot in Godalming and Shere, a town and village in the county of Surrey in South East England that dates back to the 11th century. Filming began January 2006
The film opened at number three on the United States box office, raking in $12,778,913 in the weekend of December 8, 2006. Altogether, The Holiday made $63 million at the North American domestic box office, and $142 million at the international box office. The film grossed at total $205,135,175, worldwide, against a production budget of $85 million, and an estimated advertising spend of $34 million. The Holiday became the twelfth highest-grossing film of the 2000s to be helmed by a female director.
The Holiday received mixed reviews from critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 47% of critics gave the film a positive rating, based on 135 reviews, with an average score of 5.5/10. Its consensus states "The Holiday, while sweet and somewhat touching, lacks any surprises and eventually overstays its welcome." On Metacritic, which uses a normalized rating system, the film holds a 52/100 rating, based on 31 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
In her review for USA Today, Claudia Puig found that The Holiday "is a rare chick flick/romantic comedy that, despite its overt sentimentality and fairy-tale premise, doesn't feel cloyingly sweet." She felt that "much of the credit goes to inspired casting and the actors' chemistry." Carina Chocano, writing for the Los Angeles Times noted that "like a magic trick in reverse, The Holiday reveals the mechanics of the formula while trying to keep up the illusion. She complimented Winslet and Law's performances, but was critical toward Diaz, who she felt "strikes the off-note, but then you tend to think it's not her fault." Rex Reed from The New York Observer noted that "at least 90 percent of The Holiday is a stocking-stuffer from Tiffany's [...] so loaded with charm that it makes you glow all over and puts a smile in your heart." While he felt that the final 15 minutes of film "diminish a lot of the film's good intentions," he added that Meyers "created some hearth-cozy situations, written some movie-parody zingers, and provided Eli Wallach with his best role in years."
Somewhat less enthusiastic, Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly graded the film with a 'B–' rating, summing it as a "cookie-cutter chick flick." He concluded that "it's a self-consciously old-fashioned premise, with too much sub-Bridget Jones dithering, but Nancy Meyers' dialogue has a perky synthetic sheen." Justin Chang from Variety wrote that while "Meyers' characters tend to be more thoughtful and self-aware (or at least more self-conscious) than most [...] this overlong film isn't nearly as smart as it would like to appear, and it willingly succumbs to the very rom-com cliches it pretends to subvert." He added, that "in a spirited cast [...] the Brits easily outshine their Yank counterparts. Winslet weeps and moans without sacrificing her radiance or aud's sympathy, while the marginally less teary-eyed Law effortlessly piles on the charm in a role that will have some amusing resonances for tabloid readers." Ruthe Stein of the San Francisco Chronicle remarked that the film was "the most love-centric movie since Love Actually." She felt that The Holiday "has charming moments and a hopeful message for despondent singles, but it lacks the emotional resonance of Meyers' Something's Gotta Give and the zaniness of What Women Want. Clocking in at two hours and 16 minutes, Holiday is ridiculously long for a romantic comedy and would benefit from losing at least a half-hour."
Since its release, however, The Holiday has been labeled as a modern Christmas classic.
The official soundtrack contains music by various artists, Heitor Pereira and Hans Zimmer, and is released on the Varèse Sarabande label.
In the video rental store, Miles (Jack Black) sings the theme tune of Driving Miss Daisy by "Hans". Hans Zimmer also composed and produced the score for The Holiday. Jack Black later spoofed the movie in Be Kind Rewind.
According to a radio interview on BBC Radio 1, the song "Kill the Director" by The Wombats was written about this film. From the lyrics "this is no Bridget Jones" and according to the radio interview, they hated the film, and hence decided to write a song about it.
- "Maestro" by Hans Zimmer - 3:53
- "Iris and Jasper" by Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe - 3:24
- "Kayak for One" by Ryeland Allison - 1:30
- "Zero" by Hans Zimmer and Atli Örvarsson - 2:44
- "Dream Kitchen" by Hans Zimmer and Henry Jackman - 1:35
- "Separate Vacations" by Hans Zimmer, Lorne Balfe and Imogen Heap - 1:47
- "Anything Can Happen" by Hans Zimmer and Heitor Pereira - 0:48
- "Light My Fire" by Hans Zimmer - 1:14
- "Definitely Unexpected" by Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe - 3:34
- "If I Wanted To Call You" by Hans Zimmer and Atli Örvarsson - 1:50
- "Roadside Rhapsody" by Hans Zimmer and Henry Jackman - 1:39
- "Busy Guy" by Hans Zimmer and Henry Jackman - 1:28
- "For Nancy" by Hans Zimmer, Atli Orvarsson and Lorne Balfe - 1:27
- "It's Complicated" by Hans Zimmer and Imogen Heap - 1:00
- "Kiss Goodbye" by Heitor Pereira and Herb Alpert - 2:33
- "Verso E Prosa" by Heitor Pereira - 1:59
- "Meu Passado" by Hans Zimmer, Henry Jackman and Lorne Balfe - 1:25
- "The 'Cowch'" by Hans Zimmer, Heitor Pereira, Lorne Balfe and Imogen Heap - 2:42
- "Three Musketeers" by Hans Zimmer, Heitor Pereira, Lorne Balfe and Imogen Heap - 2:44
- "Christmas Surprise" by Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe - 2:32
- "Gumption" by Hans Zimmer, Atli Orvarsson and Henry Jackman - 3:45
- "Cry" by Hans Zimmer, Lorne Balfe and Heitor Pereira - 2:39
- "It's a Shame" by the Spinners
- "You Send Me" by Aretha Franklin