Home For the Holidays Movie Review
Directed by Jodie Foster, Home for the Holidays follows a couple of days in the life of Claudia (Hunter), a starving artist/museum employee whose life goes from bad to worse over the course of Thanksgiving "vacation." Losing her job is only the tip of the iceberg. When she jets home to spend a little time with Mom (Anne Bancroft) and Dad (Charles Durning), the Titanic of her life begins to sink. Enter maniacal brother Tommy (Robert Downey Jr) and eccentric Aunt Glady (Geraldine Chaplin), plus a host of other extended family members, and the result is the most hilarious Thanksgiving dinner you're likely ever to witness.
Hunter is a perfect foil to the cadre of comics who surround her, playing off their borderline sanity with the dry humor of a woman long-since jaded with the world. All around her, "peculiarity" is taken to previously unheard-of heights, fully detailed with a rich backstory laden with almost-inside jokes that continually top one another.
On the downside, a few subplots and minor characters (who invited Steve Guttenberg?) fall flat, and some of the dialogue is poorly choreographed and overlaps. As a result, some dull and confusing moments crop up here and there, most notably at the end of the picture, when instead of dazzling us with a finale of some phenomenal pumpkin pie, we're given an old can of cranberry sauce to chew on. The film may die away, but the comedic damage has been done.
Negatives aside, the real staying power in Home for the Holidays is the uncanny resemblance bits of the film seem to have with our very own dysfunctional holiday experiences. And of course, the sheer derangement of Claudia's family makes us realize that, hey, maybe we don't have it so bad after all.