An Honest Recap Of 'The Holiday'

What up, grinches! We’re right in the middle of the holiday season, and I’m back with another classic Christmas movie recap. You guys loved my recap of The Princess Switch, and for that I will be forever grateful. So I’m here to hopefully not fuck up a good roll I have going, by going after a fan favorite Christmas rom-com. This time, I’m giving you my honest recap of The Holiday, the classic movie with Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, and Jack Black. I saw The Holiday in 2006 in theaters, but I literally do not remember a single thing that happened. I DO remember not being particularly impressed with it back then, so how this mediocre film has made it into the canon of holiday classics is beyond me.

But in any case, settle in, because I’m currently getting ghosted by a guy I already hooked up with, so I am FIRED UP and I am NOT HERE for your fake true love bullshit. I’ve been told I’m funnier when I’m angry, so you guys should be in for a treat.

The movie opens with Jack Black scoring a romantic comedy. It wouldn’t be a Christmas rom-com if we weren’t also watching a rom-com within the rom-com. A voiceover from Kate Winslet says, “I have found almost everything ever written about love to be true.” And, like, that’s a blanket statement if I’ve ever heard one. Everything EVER written? What about just one paragraph above that where I say true love is bullshit? Lawyered.

Jack Black kisses the hand of a woman who is far too hot for him, and waves goodbye to her as she bolts out the door. This will be important later.

So Kate Winslet here is establishing herself as an expert in unrequited love (lol bitch you’re gonna have to kill me for that title), and, like, maybe you wouldn’t be unrequited in love affairs if you had shared the fucking door with Jack Dawson!! Just saying! Kate Winslet is telling anyone who will listen that she’s been in love with this curly mop-headed dude for three years, and it’s not immediately clear what she sees in him. Mop Head and Kate were banging, but then she found out he was banging someone else, as men tend to do.

I mean, Kate (her character’s name is Iris; I will call her what I want) keeps saying Mop Head cheated on her, but from the 30 seconds of dialogue so far, I’ve already gathered that they were just fuck buddies and definitely weren’t exclusive. You were “shagging” and he said “I love you” three times over the course of three years? Girl, you a side hoe.

Ugh, ok so Iris goes to finish her work in the middle of the holiday party and Mop Head comes into her office to bother her. Homegirl is quoting his own column back to him. This is pathetic! That’s like reciting his own social media posts to him — you just don’t do it. AND she gives him a Christmas gift! Meanwhile, he’s like, “Yeah, I got you a gift too. It’s deez nuts!!”

This pathetic bitch probably spent a ton of money on the most thoughtful gift in the universe, whereas this dude’s idea of a gift is most likely “letting her” go down on him while he watches the game.

Lol so Mop Head’s name is Jasper, which pleases me because it might as well be the human iteration of the term Mop Head. The head of this newspaper or whatever announces in the middle of the company party, to Iris personally (weird flex but ok) that Mop Head is engaged. Not to Iris, if that wasn’t clear. To someone else.

Ok so that’s it for Iris’ sob story of a life. For now.

Over… elsewhere, Cameron Diaz and some actor I can’t place but I know he was a douche in some other movie, are getting in a fight because he definitely banged his receptionist.

Douche: I didn’t sleep with her!
Cameron Diaz: Swear on my life I didn’t sleep with her
Douche: You got me there.

Cameron kicks him tf out of the house. You go girl! Meanwhile the guy is like, gaslighting the shit out of her and claiming this breakup is her fault somehow? Wow, this movie was ahead of its time in the “men are trash” department.

And ok now we’re introduced to the theme that Cameron Diaz “can’t cry.” You’d think this would inspire some therapy, but instead all she does is tell every person she meets about this inability to produce tears, like it’s some kind of fun quirk.

Then she punches The Douche, and, like, I feel like I shouldn’t be rooting for someone who could have just copped an assault charge but I semi am. Amanda says she need a vacation (same girl) and while looking for a vacation rental, she starts attempting to cry?? This is the weirdest scene ever. 

She books a cottage in some random town in England, because you can’t stay in a remote home in the U.S.? Spoiler, I think this is Iris’ house? Somebody call Paige Davis; we’re about to trade spaces.


Umm, wait a sec, did Iris just light her gas burner and start inhaling it?? And then change her mind and throw open a window?? Holy fuck, this movie is dark.

So is “home exchange” a real thing? You just let a complete stranger borrow your house, car, everything? I can think of a billion things that could go wrong with this right off the bat. There’s not even a background check process?? Not to mention, how is Cameron Diaz affording a damn mansion in LA? I’ve already found a huge plot hole. So Iris and Amanda (Cameron Diaz’s character) are gonna play Wife Swap with their lives for two weeks. That’s the premise. It has taken us, what, an hour (?) to arrive at the premise.


While Iris is on the plane (umm, shouldn’t your phone be in airplane mode? This is 2006; you couldn’t even use your iPod during a flight back then), she is sending the most pathetic text to Jasper. “We both know I need to fall out of love with you.” GIRL! Get your head out of the river of self-pity you’re drowning in. Here’s how this exchange should have gone.

Mop Head: How do I contact you while you’re in LA?
Iris: You don’t.

End scene. Like, what, did they not have the block feature back in 2006?

Amanda has also arrived in England after an unnecessary scene showing her struggling to bring her luggage up to the house. Just women things, I guess! Ok but Amanda walking through the grocery store while drinking wine straight out of the bottle is a big fucking mood. But when I do that, I’m escorted from the premises immediately??

Image Credit: Sony Pictures

Then she gets drunk at home and starts interpretive dancing to “Mr. Brightside.” Weird, I did the same thing on Friday. Then she has a staring contest with the dog, which seems like a waste of two minutes of my life. I really wonder why this scene made it into the movie? What did it add? What purpose did it serve?? The questions I ask with my $50,000 creative writing degree. Thanks, dad!

Jack Black and the woman who’s too hot to associate with him drive through to Cameron Diaz’s house that Iris is now living in. He’s surprised when Iris answers the door. I mean, yeah, maybe they both should have communicated that they would be switching houses with a stranger?? A little foresight could have avoided a lot of confusion. The wind blows some shit into Iris’ eye. But this isn’t just any wind, this is crazy magical wind that can make anything happen. ~*foreshadowing*~ I’m gonna say right now, this cRaZy WiNd aspect was also 100% not needed.

Jude Law shows up to Iris’ cottage in the middle of the night… to use the bathroom? Is this dude homeless? If so, I gotta start hanging out at the local homeless shelter. JK, he’s Amanda’s hot brother. Amanda gives Jude Law a blanket and goes on for 10 minutes about how alone she is, and says goodnight and he kisses her… out of the blue?? Like, huh?? When I ramble about being alone to a guy, all I get is the check. Here we go again, Hollywood setting unrealistic expectations.

This dumbass Amanda stops making out to be like, “I think we should have sex.” But if you hadn’t said anything, you would have probably done that… nvm. Then he’s like, “Ok I’m down” and she stops AGAIN to be like, “oh btw I’m bad at sex.” Really selling yourself!

Jude Law: How do you feel about foreplay?
Amanda: I think it’s overrated.

And that’s why you’re bad at sex. Let me guess! You also “only have guy friends” because “girls are too much drama” and also you “are actually really into sports”?

L-O-freakin-L the next morning, Jude Law is like, “So I know you’re only in town for two weeks and legit don’t live here and are leaving later today but my love life is complicated and I’m not looking for anything serious rn.” Ohhhhh myyyy god. Where have I heard this before? Oh, that’s right, EVERY WAKING MOMENT OF MY LIFE!

Me: *accidentally makes eye contact with an ugly guy*
Guy: hey I’m really sorry but I’m not looking for a relationship at the moment.

Jude Law calls Amanda “the most interesting girl he’s ever met” because she’s “not sure if she can even fall in love.” Color me fucking shocked that a man is claiming to find emotional unavailability “interesting.” You don’t think it’s interesting, you just think it’s easier for you. Also, in my experience, acting this way is only a successful dating strategy if you also happen to be conventionally hot. If you don’t, acting like you’re too good for feelings just ends in, “fuck you bitch, hahah, you thought I liked you? Lmfaooo that’s so funny.” Not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything though!!

Then Jude Law asks for her number and invites her to dinner. This is why men can’t be trusted! They legit go from, “I’m not looking for a relationship right now” to “hey wanna come to dinner and meet my friends and BY THE WAY YOU ARE LOVELY.”

Back in LA we’re treated to a scene of Kate Winslet dancing in bed, as literally all of us do when we first wake up in the morning. Yeah… that’s exactly what I do, not contemplate my existence and whether I should quit my job.

Mop Head then calls Iris to tell her he’s having problems with his fiancée, which none of us could have seen coming, and basically be trash in general. What can I say, trash gonna trash.

Jasper literally remembers that Iris owns a red bikini and Iris takes this as like, a sign that they’re meant to be together. Are you kidding? That’s like being like “oh he remembers I have a black thong, he pays so much attention to me!” Spare me. At the very least, this Iris character is making me feel a hell of a lot better about my love life and petty choices.

I guess Amanda changed her mind because she shows up to the bar Jude Law is at.

Back in LA, Iris sees an old man walking down the street, minding his own damn business, and she stops the car to bother him and offer him a ride home. And she also already knows where he lives?? If I randomly pulled up on an old man in New York like this, I would be getting a swift cane to the face. LA is weird.

Honestly Iris has more chemistry with this old-ass man than she’s had with any other dude in this movie so far. He then explains the concept of a meet-cute to her, which seems hard to believe given how fucking pathetic this woman is. She’s really never heard of a meet-cute before? She seems like the type of keep a list of potential meet-cutes in her diary. “Today I went to the store to buy milk, and the cashier just so happened to be this cute guy who winked at me! Or maybe he had something in his eye. Maybe we’ll tell our kids that one day… ” This depressing hoe.

Iris then asks the old guy to dinner. I’m so shipping them. The old guy is like, “lol I haven’t been busy since 1978,” which is a big mood.

Ugh, the old guy is like, “What is a beautiful girl like you doing spending the holidays alone?” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that, I could… buy myself enough plastic surgery so that I’d be so hot I’d never be single again. Please donate to my GoFundMe!

Jude Law spent the night at Cameron Diaz’s because they got plastered, and she’s, like, beside herself that they didn’t fuck. I mean, I get it. I’d be pissed too if I cock-blocked myself.

This line has aged really well from the movie: “Call me old-fashioned, but one does not have sex with women who are unconscious.” Wait so… Hollywood did understand the concept of consent back in 2006?? Hmm.

Jude Law: We should go  out to town and get lunch and get to know each other
Cameron Diaz: Um… why?

Can relate. 

This is the lamest lunch date ever. No wonder Cameron Diaz never has sex! I’ve had job interviews that are more exciting than this. We do learn that Cameron Diaz hasn’t cried since she found out her parents were getting divorced when she was 15. Girl. Save that shit for therapy, no guy wants to hear that on the first date.

At this point, I am halfway through this godforsaken movie and want to stick my head over a gas burner. Has nobody who worked on this film heard of editing??

Cameron Diaz acting like her relationship with Jude Law is “complicated” after knowing him for a few days is laughable at best. I will legit date guys in my own city for MONTHS and a relationship will never be on the horizon, and she thinks they’re on the verge of entering into an LDR after knowing each other for a week? Ok. Sure.

Back in LA, Jack Black comes over where Iris is having a Chanukah party with the old guy and all his old friends. Looks fun af. When I get together with my old Jewish relatives, all I get is guilted. I’d rather go to this Chanukah party.

Jack Black says he’s a “one woman at a time” kind of guy and Kate Winslet practically cums her pants on the spot. Is that all it takes?? A vague inclination towards monogamy?? LOL and then he kisses Iris two times on the cheek when he’s leaving, which, like, isn’t cheating but is also not super appropriate given that Jack Black clearly has a crush on Kate Winslet. Oh, but I thought you were a “one woman at a time” kind of guy, right? Sure, though, go ahead and kiss your “new female friend” on the cheek a couple of times. Not at all suspect.

Cameron Diaz shows up to Jude Law’s house to profess her love in this ridiculous speech. We learn he has a DAUGHTER!! Scratch that, make that TWO DAUGHTERS!! This scene with Jude Law’s daughters is pretty boring and could have been CUT. That’s all I’m saying. He puts a napkin over his face and covers it with his glasses — this is not ground-breaking cinema here.

The only important part of this is his daughters’ flagrant attachment issues. They’re inviting a woman they just met once to have sleepovers and basically be their mom. These kids should be in therapy. Is their actual mom even cold in the ground yet before they start trying to replace her??

Ugh, now Cameron and Jude are playing the game of “no, I thought I was meaningless to you, but clearly I’ve been in love with you!” “No, I thought I was meaningless to you!” Basically they both were hiding their feelings because they thought the other person didn’t give a shit. Tbh I’m jealous, because when I play this game it only ends in, “yea you’re right I mean I’d probably be bummed if you died or whatever. but that’s about it.”

Iris does a “I just got fucked” lap around LA, except her dry spell is so severe that she actually only got kissed on the cheek. She’s running around with a huge smile on her face and saying hi to everyone. She’s still blaming the winds for this? Yeah I guess it makes sense… “lol the wind just blew Jack Black’s mouth onto my cheek multiple times, crazy how that works!”

Here’s another subplot, because we don’t have enough of these already: the Screenwriters Guild wants to make a tribute night to this Arthur guy. He doesn’t want to do it because he doesn’t want to walk out in front of his peers in a walker. Now he and Iris are doing water aerobics to get him in shape enough for this premiere. Sure, Iris is a licensed physical therapist.

Wow, Jack Black and Iris meet at a video store. Damn, this movie is old af.

Would it really be a Jack Black movie if he didn’t decide to randomly scat a song with no real reason? No. So at this video store he’s scatting classic movie themes. I guess I admire the dedication to his personal brand.

Lol as Jack Black is singing The Graduate theme, we pan to Dustin Hoffman, who shakes his head. Ok, I’m starting to see why people love this movie.

OHHH SNAP. From outside the video store, Jack Black sees his actress girlfriend who’s clearly on a date with another guy. Jack Black says, “ugh I always do this, I always fall for bad girls.” You mean cheaters? “Bad girls” is not a phrase unless we’re talking about Bad Girls Club. 

Cool, so now we’re having a montage where Iris and Jack Black help Arthur get ready for his dinner. At the same time, Amanda is crying over Jude Law and walking dramatically up a hill.

BUT THEN, Jude Law walks into the cottage and they start making out everywhere!

We’re treated to yet another scene of Jack Black scatting. WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS?? Yes, we know Jack Black can sing and he is ~so goofy~ because he’ll just replace words with random sounds.


Post-sex, Cameron and Jude are trying to figure out how to make a long-distance relationship work… between LA and London. Damn, how bomb was the dick that you’re considering making cross-continental trips?

Cameron Diaz is like, “maybe we can make this work, maybe we can fly back and forth as much as we can”… like… How about, MAYBE YOU’RE JUST OVERWHELMED BY THE RELEASE OF OXYTOCIN AND YOU’RE NOT FEELING ACTUAL EMOTIONS RN? It’s all fake!

Oh, okay, Jude Law professes that he’s in love with Cameron Diaz. Are we on The Bachelor? How do you fall in love with someone after two weeks? Cameron Diaz lets him down real gentle: “Can you please not look at me like that, I’m trying to find the right thing to say.” Aka, me on a date after I reveal my obsession with true crime and serial killers.

While out with Iris, Jack Black gets a call from Maggie, his ex who cheated on him. And the fact that he picks up the phone instead of hitting “block” immediately is proof that men… well, y’all already know what I’m gonna say. THANK YOU, MOTHAFUCKIN NEXT.

Ugh speaking of shitty exes who should go crawl in a hole, Jasper calls Iris. He’s apparently sent her a surprise, and it’s… Him! Holy shit, this motherfucker really flew out to LA to fuck up this girl’s life, just like every man does when the girl he fucked over repeatedly finally shows signs of moving on. *Screams internally*

Iris: So wait are you still with your fiancée?
Jasper: I wish you could just accept how confused I am.

LMMMFFFAAAOOOO!!! This is literally straight out of the fuckboy playbook. Nay, the Fuckboy 10 Commandments. 

Well FINALLY Iris grows a pair and tells Jasper off. Thank you! Then she runs off again to find Arthur, and AGAIN I SAY, this is the best and healthiest couple in this entire movie.

They walk into the tribute or whatever and Arthur is so surprised by how many people showed up to his event that he’s crying. I get it. If I get more than eight people to come to my birthday party, I’m impressed.

Jack Black invites himself to England for New Year’s Eve to go take Iris on a date. Meanwhile, here in New York, dating someone in a different borough is considered a long distance relationship. And Jersey? Fuhgeddaboutit.

Back in England, Amanda is saying goodbye to Jude Law. (I forgot his character’s name, just deal with it.) Amanda’s sighing dramatically in the backseat and this cab driver is like, “I did not sign up for this shit today, it is too damn early.” Then she starts crying, and then she’s laughing that she’s crying. It’s beautiful! It’s a Christmas miracle!

The driver is literally like “Damn they do not pay me enough to deal with these crazy bitches.”

Then she yells at him to turn around (he’s probably thinking like, “she better tip me extra for this”), and she gets out of the car and runs back to the house…. But she gets winded halfway through. That’s relatable. Even the power of true love can’t motivate me to complete a cardio workout.

She finally makes it to the house and… Jude Law has been crying too. But also why is he still there?

Amanda: You know, I was just thinking, why would I leave before New Year’s Eve? It makes no sense at all. You didn’t ask me out but you did say you loved me so I’m thinking I’ve got a date.

If this were the real world, I would say, “Be careful, even written confirmation via text that you have a date is not, in fact, confirmation that you have a date,” but this is a movie, so I’ll leave my cynicism elsewhere. She, Jack Black, Kate Winslet, and Jude Law spend New Year’s together with Jude Law’s daughters.

Everyone is dancing, everyone is happy… the end.

My cynicism aside, The Holiday was WAY less terrible than The Princess Switch, so I get why people like it. However, it was about 20-30 minutes too long. Also, what was the deal with Iris’ opening voiceover? We literally never used that device again. Why was that in there? I am left with more questions than answers at the end of this one-hour, 45-minute experience. Now if you’ll excuse me, the crazy Santa Ana winds are blowing me elsewhere. Happy holidays!

Sara Levine
Sara Levine
Sara cares about a few things, including cheese, cheap white wine (never chardonnay), and the Real Housewives of Potomac. She co-hosts Betches' Not Another True Crime Podcast and posts her tweets to Instagram.