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Film / The Holiday

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A Christmas-themed Romantic Comedy film from 2006, written and directed by Nancy Meyers.

Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet) is a London journalist who's spent the last three years pining over her jerkass ex Jasper Bloom (Rufus Sewell), who's just gotten engaged. Meanwhile, Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz), who makes film trailers in Los Angeles, has just thrown out her cheating boyfriend Ethan Ebbers (Edward Burns). The women meet online and elect to swap homes for two weeks during Christmas vacation. Naturally, they meet men (and of course, men who are a part of the other woman's life). Amanda hooks up with Iris' brother Graham (Jude Law) and Iris meets Amanda's composer Miles Dumont (Jack Black) for her film trailer. Iris also begins an Intergenerational Friendship with Arthur Abbott (Eli Wallach), an elderly retired silver screen screenwriter who gives her some helpful life advice.


Not to be confused with Holiday, the 1938 movie starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

This film provides examples of:

  • Adam Westing: Hal Douglas as the narrator of Amanda's life.
  • Adorably-Precocious Child: Sophie and Olivia, Graham's daughters, are both endearingly bright and well-mannered for their young ages; Amanda is quickly charmed by them.
  • Alliterative Name: Arthur Abbott.
  • All There in the Manual: The woman who works with Ben and tells Amanda "Ben needs you" is called Bristol. Her name isn't said on-screen but is revealed in the credits. This is also true of Iris's coworker, Hannah.
  • Almost Kiss: Iris and Jasper near the end, before Jasper reveals he is still engaged to Sarah. At the end of the scene, Iris throws him out.
  • Amusing Injuries: Amanda punching Ethan in the face twice after kicking him out.
    • When Amanda comes down Iris's stairs after seeing her trailer for Deception, she bangs her head on a low ceiling beam.
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  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Amanda gives one to her cheating boyfriend after throwing him out.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The start of Arthur's speech at the ceremony honoring his life's work: "I'm absolutely overwhelmed... that I could climb those stairs." As in, the ones he had to climb to get up on stage.
  • Bait the Dog: Jasper does this to Iris twice.
    • Double-subverted. First, he tells Iris at the beginning that he got her a Christmas present, but doesn't have it with him. He brings it to her later while she's still at Amanda's house, but that's still part of this trope, as Iris had asked him for space and he seemingly ignored her request.
    • Another one near the end. Jasper showing up again near the end with Iris's present and saying he doesn't want to lose Iris, but is still engaged to be married to Sarah. When Jasper reveals this, Iris has had enough and literally pushes Jasper out of her life.
  • Big Fancy House: Amanda's, definitely. Graham's is not too bad either.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Amanda does one to Ethan after she first shuts the door on him. When she heads back upstairs, Ethan shouts at her through the door, invoking this trope from Amanda (through gritted teeth) as she runs up the stairs.
    • Amanda again while taking a bath when she hears the narrator's voice in her head.
  • Book Ends: The first and last times we see Amanda’s house in the film, an unfaithful man is thrown out of it. Ethan by Amanda at the beginning, and Jasper by Iris at the end.
  • Business Trip Adultery: Inverted with Maggie. Miles thinks she's on an acting shoot in New Mexico, and even sends her Christmas present there. But while she did go to New Mexico, she returned after two days to stay with her lover instead.
  • Brick Joke: When Amanda is first in Iris's bathroom soon after arriving, she looks at the bath, gauges its size and remarks, "OK, that'll be interesting." It comes back later in the film where she has a bath, has a change of heart and decides to go to Graham's house.
  • Broken Heel: As Amanda heads on foot to Iris's cottage for the first time, she's wearing spiked heels and walking on snow, so she slips and dumps snow on herself when she grabs a tree branch for support.
  • The Cameo: Dustin Hoffman; see Throw It In on the Trivia page. Also, Lindsay Lohan and James Franco in the "Deception" trailer.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Jack Black stars in the film, and a DVD of Be Kind Rewind, also starring Black, is shown in the background.
  • Censorship by Spelling: Both Amanda and Graham do this when Graham reveals he is not D-I-V-O-R-C-E-D as Amanda thinks, but instead is actually a W-I-D-O-W-E-R.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Jasper tells Iris he bought her a Christmas present at the start of the film, but doesn't have it with him at that moment. He later unexpectedly turns up at Amanda's doorstep with said present in hand. Subverted in that though Jasper implies it's clothing, we don't find out what it is. His presence, however, and the use of said present, does lead to Iris kicking him out of her life shortly after.
    • Arthur recommends a list of movies for Iris to watch that involve a leading lady with gumption, to try and bring out her strong personality. These contribute directly to Iris gaining the initiative and gumption to eject Jasper from her life for good.
  • Commonality Connection: After Miles sees Maggie cheating on him, he and Iris discover how alike they are after having both had a partner that cheated on them, and it brings them closer together, resulting in a Last-Minute Hookup.
  • Cool Old Guy: Arthur Abbott - not only is he Sophisticated as Hell and still extremely sharp and witty, he's an esteemed former writer from the Hollywood Golden Age and helps Iris bring out her inner strength (which he refers to as "gumption"). He's also played by Eli Wallach, making him cool by default.
  • Crappy Holidays: Iris and Amanda agree to swap homes specifically to avoid this.
  • Curse Cut Short: Iris trying to open the gates at Amanda's house for Miles and Maggie when she first meets them.
  • Defenestrate and Berate: Amanda gives Ethan some of his things when she kicks him out, and tells him she will send him everything else. In a later scene, where Iris meets Miles and Maggie, Miles says he came round to pick up Ethan's laptop.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Two examples involving Amanda.
    • Amanda tells Graham that she had this reaction to her parents' divorce when she was fifteen, because of how close of a family they were.
    • Amanda has this reaction again after Graham's Love Confession.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: Amanda and Graham on Amanda's second night in Surrey. They didn't, because Amanda drank far too much and passed out. Graham stayed because Amanda asked him to.
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: Iris has this moment towards the end.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Downplayed with Amanda the first time she drives Iris's Mini. Justified because she's not used to driving on the other side of the road, or the other side of the car.
  • Driven to Suicide: Played for Laughs. Iris, who's in despair after the announcement of her ex's engagement, attempts to breathe directly from the gas stove. She then goes "what am I doing?!" and quickly turns off the stove and opens the window, deciding this is just a "low point" for her.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: Averted. After Amanda drinks too much and passes out, Graham says that they didn't have sex, because... "Call me old-fashioned, but one doesn't have sex with women who are unconscious."
  • Eating the Eye Candy: When Graham shows up at Iris’s house and Amanda lets him in she is quick to notice his wit, charm and good looks.
  • Exiled to the Couch: Implied example. Ethan is seen waking up on one of the sofas in Amanda's living room early on. Not surprising, given that when he goes upstairs to try and talk to Amanda, she throws shoes at him.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The film's opening shows a couple kissing on a riverbank, romantic music swelling... which turns out to be Miles' composition over a film clip on his computer.
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: Iris at the beginning of the movie.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: In the video store scene, Miles says to Iris about the score for The Mission, "It changed my world." Moments later, he has his world changed in a different way, when he turns around and sees, through the store window, Maggie on the arm of another man.
  • Foreshadowing: In the opening montage when we are with Amanda and Ethan in the Porsche, Iris's narration goes "For some, quite inexplicably, love fades." This sets up Ethan cheating on Amanda with his receptionist and actually Amanda wanting to go on holiday, thus switching houses with Iris and setting much of the plot in motion. Miles also ends his relationship with Maggie after she cheats on him. The next bit goes, "For others, love is simply lost." Graham is later revealed to be a widower. And then: "But then, of course, love can also be found." Yes, it can, for all four main characters.
    • Actually, the whole opening montage introduces us to all the film's main characters, and sets up locations such as Miles's home and the pub that will appear later, including Miles and Maggie, Amanda and Ethan, Arthur, Graham, and ending with Iris and Jasper.
    • The throwaway line from Iris's boss, "Before you rush off on holiday..." Iris later does exactly that because of the boss's subsequent announcement that Jasper is engaged.
    • Miles tells Iris when the Santa Anas wind blows, anything can happen. This pretty much foreshadows the rest of the film for Iris, as she forms an Intergenerational Friendship with Arthur, kicks Jasper out of her life and gets together with Miles after finding out Maggie has cheated on him.
    • During the Hanukkah party, Miles remarks on how Maggie is on location in New Mexico, working on an indie film. At these words, Arthur shoots a quick look at Iris. During the video store scene, Maggie is seen to be cheating on Miles and Miles and Iris end up together in a Last-Minute Hookup.
  • Freak Out: On her second night in Iris's home, Amanda comes downstairs hungover and panics when she sees her bra in the kitchen, while Graham is present, and immediately thinks they had sex the night before. Graham tells her they didn't, because Amanda was drunk and passed out. Graham only stayed because Amanda asked him to (presumably to make sure she was OK).
    Graham: Call me old-fashioned, but one doesn't have sex with women who are unconscious.
  • Genre Savvy: Iris is having a conversation with Graham and Amanda on separate lines and quickly concludes that they've met and are having a relationship with only a few hints... then angrily yelling at her brother for having sex with the woman staying in her house! Unfortunately for her, she can't hit the button to switch the lines...
  • Get Out!: Amanda does this to Ethan at the start of the film, punching him in the face twice to make it blatantly clear that it's over.
    • Near the end, Jasper turns up at Amanda's house unexpectedly. When Iris asks him if he is still engaged (he is), Iris gives this to him, literally pushing him out of the house and slamming the door in his face.
  • Heroes Gone Fishing: While trying to find something to do in Surrey before meeting Graham, Amanda plays "Mr Brightside" by The Killers and sings loudly to it while dancing and drinking a glass of wine.
    • Miles attending the Hanukkah party at Amanda's house with Iris, Arthur and two of Arthur's friends, Norman and Ernie.
    • Amanda and Graham spending the night in the pub, then having lunch the following day. Amanda then decides to go over to Graham's house that evening, and this is where she meets Graham's daughters.
    • The scene of Miles and Iris in the DVD store before Miles sees Maggie on the arm of another man. At the end of the next scene, after realising they aren't that different, Miles decides to make Iris some fettuccine.
    • The New Year's Eve party in the final scene.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Iris has a terrier called Charlie.
  • Hope Spot: When Jasper arrives in L.A., telling Iris about how much he'd missed her when she was away and how her absence had made him realized his feelings for her, you might be thinking, "Yay! He's had a Heel Realization and Iris can be happy with him!" That is, until he reveals that he's still engaged to Sarah...
  • Humble Hero: Arthur is a very accomplished screenwriter who's made some major contributions to classic film, even adding the famous line "here's looking at you, kid" to Film/Casablanca, but is still very humble. Iris even notes that of the long list of classic films he gave her to check out, he wasn't involved in any.
  • I Choose to Stay: Twice, both with Amanda. Amanda initially decides to go back to L.A. after only a few hours in Surrey, but then changes her mind after meeting Graham and spending the night with him. At the end, she also decides to extend her stay to New Year's Eve, which sees her, Iris, Graham, Miles and Sophie and Olivia celebrating at Graham's house in the final scene.
  • Imagine Spot: Amanda's workaholic tendencies see her having these moments four times with the narrator of Amanda's life, twice showing faux movie trailers in her mind.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink:
    • Iris wordlessly at the Christmas party when she grabs a glass of wine from Hannah's hand and drinks it. Hannah gets the message when she sees Iris looking at Jasper.
    • Amanda says this when, after a wild ride in Iris's Mini, she finally brings it to a stop. She's then seen shopping and drinking from a bottle of wine.
    • While consoling Miles after he catches Maggie cheating Iris first offers him a cup of tea but he asks for "something stronger", which she immediately provides. After hearing Iris shed some light on her situation with Jasper, Miles replies with "Well, fuck. You need this more than I do!" and hands her the drink.
  • Inner Monologue: Especially done with Amanda, whose brain turns her life into a movie trailer.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Iris and Arthur.
    • Later, Miles and Arthur as well.
    • Amanda and Sophie and Olivia.
  • In the Blood: Graham tells Amanda the Simpkins family is in publishing. Iris works at The Daily Telegraph, Graham himself is a book editor, their father is a writer of historical fiction, and their mother is an important editor at Random House. In the same scene, Amanda points out how because Graham has, in her words, "a strong working mom", he won't be intimidated by the fact that she owns the movie trailer company. He responds that he is.
  • It's All About Me: Amanda at the beginning. Ethan even tells her that he thinks she has a very high opinion of herself.
    • Ethan himself has shades of this too.
  • Jerkass: Jasper is a more low-key variant - not wholly unlikable on the surface at least, but he's not very considerate of Iris' feelings (attempting to continue a friendship after having cheated on her), which is emphasised by his calling her during her holiday (even after she asks for space); nor can he admit his own flaws or truly seem to decide what he wants, since in the climax he tries to restart a relationship with her despite still being engaged to Sarah. When Iris tells Arthur about him when they have dinner, Arthur calls him a schmuck.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Though his actions are still unforgivable, Ethan made a few good points about Amanda's relationship faults.
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Iris and Miles, after working out their ex issues (and not without build-up).
  • Long-Distance Relationship: Amanda doesn't see how one with Graham will work, and tries to keep him at arm's length for much of the film. She comes round eventually.
  • Love Martyr: Iris. For three years.
  • Manly Tears: Graham says he sheds these a lot, after Amanda tells him how she is Unable to Cry. We don't see him do it until the end, where Amanda runs back to Iris's house and finds him there.
  • Married to the Job: Amanda, due to being a Workaholic. Ethan points out that she cut 75 trailers over the course of the year, sleeps with her phone, put a cutting room in the house so she can work from home, and cannot remember the last time they had sex. Amanda points out that no one has time for sex. This is almost certainly why their relationship soured and Ethan cheated on her with his receptionist.
  • Match Cut: Amanda swinging her legs out of Iris's bath and the ensuing splash cuts to her driving Iris's Mini through a puddle as she pulls up outside Graham's house.
  • Meaningful Echo: Amanda and her parents used to call themselves The Three Musketeers before their messy divorce. She has an odd look on her face when Graham's daughters refer to themselves and Graham as the same name.
  • Meet Cute: Lampshaded by Arthur after meeting Iris. Being a former screenwriter he's well-acquainted with the trope. He explains the term to Iris using Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (which is also mentioned on the trope page) as an example.
  • Missing Mom: Sophie and Olivia's mother and Graham's late wife, revealed by him to have died two years before the events of the film.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Amanda "accidentally" checks Graham's phone with two incoming calls on mornings when Graham is with her; noticing two girls' names (after the second time), she notes "Sophie, Olivia, Amanda. Busy guy". These turn out to be his two young daughters.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: The film reminds you hard that it's PG-13 when Amanda keeps her bra on during sex.
  • New Year Has Come: Everyone meets for the first time/reunites at New Years Eve.
  • Never My Fault: Ethan blames Amanda's 24-7 working for his cheating.
  • Nice Guy: Miles and Graham, while imperfect, are both fundamentally decent men who are considerate of others (including their respective love interests) and a deliberate contrast to Iris and Amanda's respective exes; notably, it's their kinder traits that see the women falling in love with them. Arthur is the Cool Old Guy varient of this trope, being an embodiment of quintessential gentleman from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
  • No Name Given: The guy Maggie cheats on Miles with. Miles refers to him as "whatever-his-name-was" when talking to Iris about it in the next scene and he's only credited as "Maggie's Boyfriend".
  • Oh, Crap!: Amanda has two when she first drives Iris's Mini down a narrow country road and sees first a car, then a lorry, coming towards her.
    • Amanda has another one while hungover when she notices her bra in the kitchen in front of Graham.
  • Older Is Better: Arthur Abbott, a geriatric former screenwriter of The Golden Age of Hollywood, talks often about how great Hollywood used to be compared to modern Hollywood (of 2006). The fact that the list of old films he asks Iris to watch inspire her to find gumption in her life seems to support his view.
    Iris: So was Hollywood really as great back then as I imagine?
    Arthur: It was better.
  • Only One Name: Two odd examples, and a third played straight. We don't find out the surnames of Miles, Ethan or Maggie. Graham's surname is not spoken, either, but as he's Iris's brother and her surname is Simpkins, his surname is mostly likely Simpkins too. The film's Wikipedia page confirms this, as well as giving Miles and Ethan the surnames of Dumont and Ebbers respectively, but neither are said inside the film, and Maggie's surname is unknown.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When Amanda tells Ben and Bristol that she needs some weeks to herself, they treat it as a big deal because of how Amanda is Married to the Job.
    • Graham has a similar reaction when Amanda tells him that Iris has gone to L.A., because, according to him, "Iris never goes anywhere".
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Amanda is about to go back into the house after kicking Ethan out, but then she turns back to him and punches him in the face twice, knocking him to the ground.
  • Potty Emergency: Graham is having one when Amanda first meets him. Justified because he's drunk.
  • Precision F-Strike: Iris exclaims "Holy shit!" when she sees Amanda's house for the first time.
    • See I Need a Freaking Drink above, spoken by Miles in the scene after he finds Maggie cheating on him, and when Iris sheds some light on her situation involving Jasper.
  • Product Placement: When Amanda and Iris instant message, the VAIO logo is clearly displayed centre-screen, as is the Google logo on Amanda's laptop. Amanda and Iris both use BlackBerry phones.
  • Prone to Tears: Iris for the first half of the movie, with regards to Jasper. It seems to run in the family as Graham mentions being the same.
  • Race for Your Love: Amanda realising at the end that she loves Graham, asks the taxi driver to stop and she runs back to Iris's house to find Graham. After running halfway down the road she has to pause briefly to catch her breath.
  • Relative Error: Amanda believes Graham to be seeing other women like "Sophie" and "Olivia" when he keeps receiving phone calls from them. Turns out "Sophie" and "Olivia" are his daughters.
  • Romancing the Widow: A rare male example with Graham as the widow(er).
  • Rule of Three: Iris has been pining after Jasper for three years.
    • There are also three instances of infidelity: Jasper cheating on Iris, Ethan cheating on Amanda, and finally Maggie cheating on Miles.
  • Say My Name: Miles does this when he sees Maggie on the arm of another man during the video store scene and runs outside to confront her.
  • Scenery Porn: There are some lovely establishing shots of the Surrey countryside, as well as some great ones of the L.A. area too.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After only a few hours in Surrey and being bored after trying to find something to do, Amanda decides to leave on a noon plane the following day. Graham turns up unexpectedly, however, and she decides not to.
  • Self-Deprecation: Arthur calls himself an "old cocker" at one point.
  • Sex Dressed: The film is PG-13, so Amanda is still wearing her bra post-coitus.
  • Sex Equals Love: Surprisingly, it's the guy (Graham) who falls first for the girl (Amanda). Or at least he admits it first. Also surprisingly, Amanda never actually says the words in return, though her surprise return to him at the end of the film makes it clear that this time she's willing to let herself fall in love with him, and may already be most of the way there.
  • Second Love: Amanda, for Graham; Miles for Iris.
  • Shoe Slap: Amanda throws a pair of trainers at Ethan when she throws him out. She first throws one at him when he enters her bedroom, then she throws the second one at him moments later.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Both Iris and Amanda fall for good men whilst on their holidays.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Firmly on the side of idealism.
  • Suicide as Comedy: Iris's brief experimentation with her gas stove.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: The song playing at the Christmas party at the beginning is 'Last Christmas' by Wham!, a perfect description of Iris' love quarry with Jasper and the new relationship she eventually forms with Miles.
  • Unable to Cry: Amanda, mentioned by herself a number of times That is, almost right up until the end of the film when she realizes she loves Graham, asks the driver to stop the car and rushes back to Iris's house to find him.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: Jasper, Ethan and Maggie are arguably the worst characters in the film in terms of morals. None are evil, per se, just jerks who cheated on their partners and, in Iris's case, neglected to tell her that he was engaged to the other woman.
  • Winning Over the Kids: Amanda is quick to earn the affection of Graham's daughters, and vice versa in turn. All four of them lying in the girls' tent provides the page image for this trope.