Here's a good movie which is simultaneously a bad movie. The Holiday (2006). If you are female in a romantic or holiday mood, and you've got two hours and 15 minute to blow, then this is a good movie. It is a plush chick flick that includes characters from 6 to 90 years old. It sometimes stirs the heart with feelings of genuine human concerns and growth. It is a predictable rom-com and yet it isn't.
If you are a male or need to get other things done, this might strike you as a bad movie. It drags on too much in places, especially some conversations. That makes the pace of the movie start to fall apart. I almost gave up on it at the beginning, where it should have clarified itself better, as through better character demarcations.
Cameron Diaz is Cameron Diaz, but toned down to be a giggling loser-success, and the less comedic style of Kate Winslet. Kate Winslet is spiced up to be more energetic and erratic like Diaz - yet, once again, Winslet is not Kate Winslet. This time, she has her English accent. And, she is not as funny as she could be. Jack Black is annoying, and is apparently in the movie only because the writer/director had, "a little crush on him."
Many by-women/for-women rom-coms can be flat, self-centered fantasies, especially when it comes to representing men as full, not-always-women-purposed beings. (On the other hand, I have seen a lot of women-directed or women-written movies - not always rom-coms - which were very good, and deeper than male movies. Sometimes, this may be because both men and women are involved in making the movie).
In this movie, one of the women refreshingly finds friendship more than romance, which is not something you might find in, e.g., "He's Not That Into You." And the other woman finds lots of sex and alcohol, being a complete psychological mess, and yet turns out to be a completely emotionally sane person at the end, somehow.
My prediction of the plot was a little off: each woman did not fall in love with the other's boyfriend, but with a guy related to the other, in some other way. But that doesn't prevent this movie from being formulaic, no matter how much TIME is spent on trying to convince the audience that this is an ANTI-rom-com. Most of the review snippets I read in Wiki were true, and this movie did much better financially than one might have expected, probably because it was seen as a Christmas movie, which, how can you knock that, right? Sweet little kids. An old man. Snow. Jack Black...
Not one animal, though. Except for the incidental dog, which Cameron Diaz managed never to feed or take outside.
This is another movie where Hollywood again adores itself. Yet again, one more teary-eyed reference to, "The Three Musketeers." A bunch of old Jewish producers guys telling us how great Hollywood was back in the daze of Louis B. Mayer; (see post, "Hollywood RAPE"). Cameos by Lindsay Lohan and Dustin Hoffman. More characters who are writers, producers and actors - and Hollywood musicians - dating each other. To co-set it in London, some of the characters are simply wealth book editors, and such.
But this is not an English movie. If it were an English movie, the main character would not be getting what he or she wants. (In, "La La Land," the lovers didn't get what they wanted, but really they did because everything was wrapped in in a thick Hollywood gauze). This is a traditional American movie, vanitising Hollywood, where it's all, "meet cute," and live happily ever after. Now. You can see that as good or bad.
I would personally rather see there be an impending threat of some apocalyptic comet lightly dusting their lives, bringing change and Christmas joy, where everybody dies like the good Christian that they should be, like in, "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World." Now THAT would be a rom-Com worth seeing.
In, "The Holiday," the gravity is all emotional special effects. I mean, it's Cameron Diaz, whom I love, but still. A woman who doesn't know how to cry? Until, she does? And an English woman who bounces around like a spoiled American, instead of mumbling to herself about the disgraceful profligacy of the Americans? Not real. Never happened. It was all just a dream. If you want a sweet, boring place to escape to, enter here.