Nothing Like the Holidays


Some of this formulaic project was predictable; some was not; but none of it was impressive.

This is one of those "Home for the Holidays" seasonal films that is supposed to wrap up with smiles and hugs all around. The unpredictable part of this one was that there were serious elements of tragedy that lingered as we left the theater.

The movie is studded with an array of hard-working "B List" actors, all doing their best, but the script didn't give them much with which to work. Alfred Molina ("Undertaking Betty" and "Spiderman") had the most conflicted role and as usual, he did it justice. We rarely see a more capable actor; this time he's the dad.

The mother of this Puerto Rican family holding its holiday reunion in Chicago, is played by Elizabeth Pe┼ła ("Lone Star" and "Tortilla Soup") who is angry about her husband's perceived infidelities and her lack of grandchildren, but who is deeply grateful for her youngest son's safe return from Iraq.

Deborah Messing ("The Wedding Date" and "The Women") is a terrific comedienne, but this time she is saddled with the thankless task of being the only onion in the petunia patch, the sole Gringo in this exuberant gathering of Puerto Ricans. Her emotions are limited to sour, embarrassed, sympathetic or angry. Her husband, played by John Leguizamo ("Summer of Sam" and "Romeo and Juliet"), wants a baby, but she is weighing a tempting offer to manage a hedge fund, even though the alarm on her reproductive clock is clanging. Leguizamo is a better stage than screen actor, he has a problem "toning it down" for the big screen.

Luis Guzman ("School for Scoundrels," "The Count of Monte Cristo" and "Traffic") has another thankless task: his character's personality exudes a "Female Repellant" according to his character's sister. Consequently he is bombastic, rude and politically incorrect.

This movie is mostly okay, it's just nothing to write home about...