9 February 2007 | Philby-3
Iris (Kate Winslett), attractive, if somewhat dowdy, young English journalist (she works for that citadel of fogeyism, the "Daily Telegraph"), on the rebound from an affair with the shiftless Jasper (Rufus Sewell), one of the paper's columnists, decides she needs a Christmas holiday. She goes on-line and has soon swapped her Christmas-card pretty, but cramped, Surrey cottage with a mansion in Bel – Air owned by Amanda (Cameron Dias), the ebullient head of a company that makes movie trailers, who has just thrown out her latest useless partner. The girls swap places and in no time Amanda is romancing Iris's dishy brother Graham (Jude Law). Meanwhile in Hollywood Iris is getting to know Miles (Jack Black), a workmate of Amanda's, and a 90 year old neighbour, Arthur (Eli Wallach) who happens to be one of Hollywood's forgotten great writers.
One can of course dismiss this sort of stuff as glossy fairy floss because basically, despite all the money and talent expended in making it, that is what it is - "Love, Improbable." This film is rather long for its genre, over two hours, and it does drag a bit, as if the scriptwriters couldn't decide how to end it. However it must be admitted that Kate Winslett and Jude Law are always interesting to watch on screen and Cameron Diaz has a nice line in parodying some of her earlier performances. Rufus Sewell shows he can out-act Hugh Grant any day (not hard I guess). Jack Black on the other hand seemed strangely out of place as Ms W's love interest – romantic comedy doesn't seem to be his forte, he's more of your gross-out guy. It was nice though to see Eli Wallach, a great Hollywood tough guy of old, who at 90 seems to have the market for nice old buffers sewn up, as the neighbour.
Perhaps I am setting my standard too high, but compared to "Four Weddings and a Funeral", "Notting Hill", "Bedrooms and Hallways" and even "Love, Actually", this was a pile of mush, far too sweet and sticky and nice. Good comedy needs a certain bite, a reality bite, a bit of astringency, whereas what we are given here is pure fairyland escapism. Writer/Director Nancy Myers has a record of light entertaining stuff ("The Parent Trap", "Father of the Bride") and she certainly is not trying to extend her range here.