Nothing Like the Holidays

0
0
Subscribe to John Leguizamo alerts

Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Friday 12th December 2008

Box Office USA: $7.5M

Distributed by: Overture

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 52%
Fresh: 49 Rotten: 46

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: , George Tillman, , Thomas J. Busch

Starring: Elizabeth Peña as Anna Rodriguez, Freddy Rodríguez as Jesse Rodriguez, Luis Guzmán as Johnny, John Leguizamo as Mauricio Rodriguez, Debra Messing as Sarah Rodriguez, Vanessa Ferlito as Roxanna Rodriguez, Melonie Diaz as Marissa, Alfred Molina as Edy Rodriguez, Jessica Camacho as Blonde

Nothing Like the Holidays Movie Review


Caucasians have not cornered the market on festive dysfunction. It may seem like every Christmas family in freefall is as white as the snow that symbolizes the season, but that's not true. All ethnicities have their yuletide horror stories, and it looks like Tinseltown is finally working its way out of the WASP-ish wilds of the suburbs. Last year, This Christmas focused on an African-American clan's tell-all Noel. In 2008, it's the Hispanics' turn to celebrate. Nothing Like the Holidays uses Chicago's Humboldt Park as the backdrop for a great deal of warmth, a little comic craziness, and a whole lot of biology-based nerve fraying. The result is something decent, if not delightful.

For the Rodriguez family, this Christmas is more trying than others. Father Edy (Alfred Molina) is still trying to talk his way out of the doghouse with wife Anna (Elizabeth Peña). She's angry over a past infidelity and is hinting at a divorce. He's angry that their Iraq War veteran son Jesse (Freddy Rodriguez) doesn't want to take over the family business. Wannabe-actress daughter Roxanna (Vanessa Ferlito) is anxious over the possibility of landing a prime role in a television series, while ignoring the local boy Ozzy (Jay Hernandez) who clearly pines away for her. But the couple's biggest concern is Mauricio (John Leguizamo) and his non-Puerto Rican wife Sarah (Debra Messing). Their marriage has yet to produce grandchildren, and for Edy and Anna, family is everything.

Take away the tempting Puerto Rican cuisine and the occasional lapses into semi-Spanglish, and Nothing Like the Holidays would be any other X-mas movie. It's formulaic without being completely clichéd, dealing with types and plot points lifted from a dozen other family reunion retreads. What saves the film, for the most part, is the astonishing multicultural cast, though it's time to retire some of the performers who tend to show up once Hollywood decides to venture south of the border. Indeed, Luis Guzman's ambiguously-oriented Johnny has to go toe to toe with recent Hispanic heartthrob discoveries Hernandez and Rodriguez. Thankfully, old pros Molina and Peña help support director Alfred De Villa's desire for depth.

Our filmmaker has a real way with heritage here, showing as he did in the Rosalyn Sanchez dance vehicle Yellow that even the most routine material can be cast in a different, inviting light. He's also capable of bringing an authenticity to material that should play as either farcical or just plain far-fetched. Of course, a lot of his success comes from the chemistry among the actors. There is a wonderful scene between Ferlita, Leguizamo, and Rodriguez where the trio share shots of tequila in the family attic, a lifetime of history hashed out in quaint bits of telling dialogue. And as stated before, Molina and Peña also bring a lot of truth to their turns, especially when required to infer the couple's longstanding love and impending breakup.

The key question of course is whether Nothing Like the Holidays will become a welcome yearly tradition, the kind of film that families sit down and enjoy over bites of figgy pudding and one too many glasses of boxed wine. While De Villa tries hard to make his movie perennial, this is clearly a one shot, specialized deal. The minorities who consistently feel underrepresented by the mainstream's moviemaking ideal will definitely rejoice in this winning, often witty get together. But simply changing race doesn't make a movie a classic. Alfred De Villa and the gang can be congratulated for taking the genre out of its consistently white-bread environs. But just like the gifts one gets every year, Nothing Like the Holidays is a hit-and-miss entertainment experience.

You got me a pillow? I got you a pillow!


Contactmusic

0
0
Subscribe to John Leguizamo alerts

Comments

Nothing Like the Holidays Rating

" Weak "

Advertisement

More John Leguizamo

Jamie Scott - Last Christmas Video

Jamie Scott of London duo GRAFFITI6 performs an acoustic rendition of Wham!'s 1984 festive single 'Last Christmas' in a black and white one-take video. In...

Christina Aguilera Ft. Brian McKnight - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas Video

In 2000, Christina Aguilera recorded a collection of some of her favourite Christmas songs and the sessions resulted in the album 'My Kind of Christmas',...

Sam Smith - Like I Can Video

Sam Smith has launched the new video for his single 'Like I Can', released off of his number one debut album 'In The Lonely Hour'....

Jack Garratt - The Love You're Given (Live) Video

Buckinghamshire musician Jack Garratt performs an intimate live rendition of his new track 'The Love You're Given'. The artist has currently been touring across the...

Advertisement

Jack Garratt - Interview Video

Jack Garratt talks about his strict musical upbringing and subsequent multi-instrumental ability. However, it seems he hasn't always been dead set on being a musician...

Renee Fleming ft. Gregory Porter - Central Park Serenade Video

Renee Fleming and Gregory Porter perform a festive live rendition of their duet 'Central Park Serenade', taken from Renee's latest holiday album 'Christmas In New...

Laura Marling - Short Movie Video

Laura Marling has now launched the title track for her forthcoming new album 'Short Movie' alongside a colourful animated equine video. The record co-produced by...

Pond - Sitting Up On Our Crane Video

Tame Impala side-project Pond unveil a psychedelic graphics laden video for their new track 'Sitting Up On Our Crane', taken from their forthcoming new album...

Advertisement