I have found almost everything ever written about love to be true.

Mike and Andrea and I went and saw The Holiday, which I was hesitantly looking forward to. I mean, on one hand, the trailer made it look super-cute! And it has Kate Winslet in it! I love her! On the other hand: Cameron Diaz. Back to that first hand: Jack Black! He’s funny! And that second hand again: skeevy Jude Law.

The movie itself was fine – probably not a classic (though it could grow on me like You’ve Got Mail did), but well-executed and cute. When I got home, I had some banter with friends about it, and that was it. Except. I read this article by Richard Roeper, and hoo boy did it rub me the wrong way.

Now, let me start off by saying that I am not a huge fan of Richard Roeper, mostly because of an article he wrote for the Sun-Times in which he responded to those Dove “Campaign for Real Beauty” ads by saying things like this:

But the raw truth is, I find these Dove ads a little unsettling. If I want to see plump gals baring too much skin, I’ll go to Taste of Chicago, OK? I’ll walk down Michigan Avenue or go to Navy Pier. When we’re talking women in their underwear on billboards outside my living room windows, give me the fantasy babes, please.

If that makes me sound superficial, shallow and sexist — well yes, I’m a man.

Well. Aren’t you charming. And I know I’m way behind the times in responding to him, but , to me, the idea that those women are chunky and not worthy of admiration is the whole point of the campaign! They looked like women who took care of themselves but who weren’t supermodel-thin. The whole idea was, I think, to challenge our culture’s idea of beauty. I thought that the women in those ads were beautiful, but apparently Richard Roeper couldn’t get past a little flab.

So, with that said, you can see why, right off the bat, I am inclined to take the things he says about women the wrong way. Maybe that’s what the problem is here, but when he calls Amanda “shrill, work-obsessed and apparently frigid,” it raised my hackles quite a bit. Then he goes on to belittle the concept behind the movie – swapping houses for a couple of weeks. “Just because it’s based in reality,” he says, “doesn’t make it a good idea.” I know people who have swapped houses. With no problems. Strike two.

And then, at the end, he spends a lot of time talking about how beautiful one of the secondary characters is, excusing it because he’s a “cad.” This is right after he admittedly engages in gender stereotyping about how no man would choose to see the movie on his own (tell that to the man who sat ALONE on the row in front of us, Richard).

The one thing I found most telling is that he compares this movie unfavorably to another feel-good holiday romantic comedy – Love Actually. I like Love Actually, but I think it had some plotting problems (too many stories, not enough time). The real thing that I wanted to point out, though, is that I know a lot of women who had a lot of problems with Love Actually because of the gender roles. The majority of women in it are secretaries or assistants or housekeepers, and they (of course) fall in love with the men who are “over” them. Well, isn’t that a lovely idea for a movie? Do you think Richard Roeper would have liked Amanda a little better if she hadn’t been an independent businesswoman? Do you think that if Amanda’s character had been a male who worked a lot and was maybe too busy to have sex, he would have seen it as a bad thing? I’m not sure, either, and that’s what I find so troubling.

Look, everyone’s entitled to his or her opinion, but what this review says to me is that Roeper doesn’t like these kinds of movies (not to mention the fact that I’m not sure he likes women all that much, at least not unless they are airbrushed and servile), which probably means he’s probably not the best guy to write a review of it. It says a lot to me that most of the women I know who have seen The Holiday were on the, “I enjoyed it,” end of the spectrum. I have said before, in regards to books, that if I don’t like a certain kind of book, I shouldn’t criticize it for following the norms of that particular genre, whether I like it or not. Would Richard Roeper criticize an action film for having things that blow up and a big showdown scene at the end? Should this movie be criticized for its “standard” scenes? I don’t write reviews on thrillers (books OR movies) because I don’t appreciate them enough to do them justice. I think that, just maybe, just because Richard Roeper has an opinion . . . doesn’t mean it’s worth sharing. (And, I know, maybe neither is mine, but I’m not getting paid to write this stuff. hehe.)

I don’t think The Holiday was the greatest movie I saw all year, but I think it did what it aimed to do, and it did it well. It managed to keep me from being annoyed with Cameron Diaz and kept the Jude Law skeeze factor to a minimum. Kate Winslet was gorgeous and hilarious as usual. Maybe I won’t remember it in 20 years, but . . . is it possible that I paid for my ticket just wanting to see a well-executed romantic comedy with pretty people who make me smile? Because I feel like I got my money’s worth. No matter what Richard Roeper thinks.

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