Home for the Holidays

Director: Jodie Foster

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

As anyone familiar with the Weird Wild Realm film reviews long ago figured out, I love horror films, action films, & foreign films, not so excited by standard Hollywood films aimed at middle America. But not all commercial Hollywood fare is awful & when I see credible critics' "ten best" lists, I'm apt to give some of these alleged best a chance, which is what fooled me into watching the Thanksgiving movie Home for the Holidays ().

In retrospect I realize that there just weren't that many Thanksgiving movies out there & a "ten best about Thanksgiving" was hard to put together without including miserable little pieces of sit, dog, sit.

Claudia, an annoying woman played by an annoying actress (Holly Hunter), is having a bad day with encounters with lots of fellow annoying persons. She's on her way, by plane, to Thanksgiving with her parents.

Just before she gets on the plain, her daugher (Claire Danes, who comes off well in the film probably because she's hardly in it & has too little time to become boring like everyone else) announces she's going to get rid of her virginity that weekend while mom's away. Mom sort of goes "that's nice sweety, play safe" then has a close call with a nervous breakdown on the plain which amounts to a phone call to her baby brother's answering machine.

Nothing interesting will happen at the dinner; it's "just" a family gathering, at which everyone will reveal aspects of themselves that are pathetic, dysfunctional, bigotted, vile, passive, passive aggressive, or aggressive. This is weighted against their capacity for loving one another since they're stuck being each other's family.

I presume this is supposed to be the sort of film where people who are so ordinary they might as well not even exist recognize themselves in people who are so ordinary the film they are in might as well not exist. If you &/or your family happen not to be as bland as white bread & margarine, then there's not apt to be much here to intrigue.

Crazy Aunt Gladdy (Geraldine Chaplin) is the world's most pathetic old maid, who nods off to sleep a lot as a way of not having to write the dialogue. Anne Bancroft as the elderly mom is a chainsmoking neurotic & dad (Charles Durning) is such a ditzy dude one half expects it to be revealed he's been having a series of mini-strokes all day long & is going to die, but not, he's just supposed to be real cute.

Little brother Robert Downey Jr. is the famly faggot who is in constant flighty whadda-joker mode so annoying someone should slap him. He's brought a friend (Dylan McDermoott) who seems to be his boyfriend for a while but is actually straight & came specifically to meet his friend's older sister Claudia.

Another sister is played by awful & minor tele-actress Cynthia Stevenson with the thankless job of keeping her head up her ass while acting out extreme bigotry against her handsome brother's flaming faggotry, while her husband (Steve Guttenberg) whines perpetually just outside the embrace of the family he has married into.

Interwoven with the tale of family-gathering banality is a light romantic comedy for our massively unappealling heroine Claudia. If there is any "handsome" guy in the entertainment business less sexy than Dylan McDermott I can't think of him just now, & his courtship of slurring eating disordered Holly Hunter has all the spark of a manged tom-cat licking the open soars of a flea-bitten whippet.

Home for the Holidays is ordinary commercial entertainment for ordinary consumers of same. It's curious that scrawny lackluster Jodie Foster would find a "star" who could be her symbiotic twin to play Claudia; she might as well have cast herself.

Beyond the director & the star having the same general look about them, this film has absolutely nothing remarkable about it. Yet I'm sure it will please anyone who hasn't the time or patience for a film that is actually about something.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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