Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Movie Review: "Home for the Holidays" (1995)

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Movie"Home for the Holidays"
Director: Jodie Foster
Year: 1995
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 43 minutes

Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) heads home to spend Thanksgiving with her extremely dysfunctional family.

Boy, are we glad our families were never as dysfunctional as the one in this movie.

Claudia, played by Holly Hunter, has just lost her job, has just found out her teenage daughter Kitt, played by Claire Danes, wants to have sex with her boyfriend, just tried to kiss her boss when he fired her, and has lost her coat an the airport. Already, the odds are stacked against her. As soon as she is picked up at the airport, Claudia's chain smoking mom Adele, played by Anne Bancroft, starts to dig in on her with constant critiques of her life, as her father Henry, played by Charles Durning, seems blissfully unaware of what's going on around him and regularly rambles nonsensical things. Claudia's brother, the black sheep of the family named Tommy, played by Robert Downey Jr., who the family were not expecting to come home for Thanksgiving, randomly shows up with his friend Leo Fish, played by Dylan McDermott. Tommy is gay, but also has an odd habit of taking Polaroids of his sister Claudia in various states of undress. Uhhh, okay? Despite this, Claudia gets along with Tommy better than anyone else in her family and it's obviously the two share an intense connection. Also joining them for dinner is Adele's sister Glady, played by Geraldine Chaplin, who is quite eccentric and also has a thing for Adele's husband, which she happily announces smack dab in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. The final family member to join in on the holiday festivities is Claudia's sister Joanne, played by Cynthia Stevenson, who really seems to unequivocally hate her family and is completely bitter that her siblings have moved away. She also has some extreme bigotry towards Tommy because he's gay. Joanne appears to be unhappily married to an unpleasant man named Walter, played by Steve Guttenberg, and they have two annoying kids who also seem like real unhappy jerks, too. As you can imagine, once this motley crew of a family gets together, tempers flare immediately, arguments happen regularly, and fights break out at the drop of a hat, but apparently that's what happens in movieland when you get a group of people together who really can't stand each other. Once again, this is an example of a film where family members get together out of obligation and spite during the holidays rather than actually wanting to spend time with each other. Now, the acting in the movie might be solid, but the material they are working with is nothing exceptional. "Home for the Holidays" is a movie about a family who really doesn't like each other who gets thrust into an environment where they for sure will not get along and are all expected to fix their long seeded issues over cranberry sauce and gravy. The movie has an endless amount of chatter without any real strong dialogue. Even though it all feels lively, because let's face it, what holiday movie doesn't feel lively, really the substance is nothing more than something you'd see in any other holiday film about major dysfunction. The context of this film takes a massively cynical look at the family-centered holiday and never has any true redemption, leaving us wondering why a family like this would even bother getting together for a turkey dinner at all?? The holidays shouldn't be a burden. While director Jodie Foster tries her best to get the audience in a festive, laughing mood, ultimately, we wound up finding this film jaded and messy, despite some good performances by Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., and others.


My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 63%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.
One year ago, we were watching: "House at the End of the Street"

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