Love hurts. Or so is the conclusion of Iris (Kate Winslet), a columnist at a London newspaper, who has just discovered her never faithful boyfriend of three years (Rufus Sewell) has become engaged to another woman. As all three of them work in the same office, Iris takes her heartbreak back to her cloistered cottage in Surrey, but her grief feels too big for her small surroundings.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Amanda (Cameron Diaz) is also stinging from the pain of Cupid's arrow. A successful producer of movie trailers, the businesswoman has difficulty making time for people or emotional commitment in her life. Consequently, when her live-in lover (Edward Burns) confesses to sleeping with someone more available, she tearlessly punches him in the face -- twice -- before throwing him out the door.
Desperate to get away from it all, Amanda hits the Internet in search of a vacation destination and stumbles across a home exchange advertisement for a lovely place in the English countryside, which just happens to belong to Iris. Within minutes the two aching souls agree to swap residences for the Christmas holidays.
Yet despite a desire not to pack their past problems along, each woman arrives at her destination on the other side of the globe still carrying some baggage.
Unused to vacationing, Amanda quickly grows inpatient with the quaint and quiet village. So she's more than inviting when opportunity knocks in the form of Iris's inebriated brother Graham (Jude Law). Still struggling with the idea of forming heartfelt connections, she seeks a no-strings-attached sexual relationship with this handsome stranger. As the days pass, however, she finds herself getting more and more entangled.
Iris on the other hand, can't stop her rescuing nature from reaching out to an elderly man (Eli Wallach) living in her adopted neighborhood, or inviting in an acquaintance of Amanda's (Jack Black), who shows up like a stray on the doorstep. Soon she is sympathizing with her new friends' feelings of loneliness and unrequited love -- and is just as surprised as always when she realizes how much of her own heart she has invested.
Created under the hand of "chick flick" queen Nancy Meyers, it's certain both women will go home happy -- somehow. Thankfully, we also enjoy some intelligent dialogue along with character development that depicts all the major players moving in positive directions and recognizing the priorities in life they have previously neglected.
But even with all the "warm fuzzy" emotions emanating from this engaging screenplay, some elements may cause concerns for parents, especially those surrounding Amanda and Graham's casual attitude toward sexual relationships. A few profanities, the use of alcohol to drown sorrows and crude sexual terms (including a sexual expletive) round out the clouds threatening to rain on what is otherwise a very entertaining Holiday.