Nothing Like the Holidays (review)

Surely the concept of “family” is one of the laziest bits of shorthand Hollywood films use as a shortcut for bypassing all the necessary drama that should otherwise be transporting a character from Point A to Point B over the course of a well-told story. Here, we have the Chicago Rodriguezes, a typically neurotic, nevertheless charming clan, getting together for Christmas. Will the New York lawyer (John Leguizamo: Righteous Kill) and his tragically not-Puerto Rican wife (Debra Messing: The Women) ever have a baby? What will the little brother (Freddie Rodriguez: Bottle Shock), wounded in Iraq, do with the rest of his life? What about sis (Vanessa Ferlito: Death Proof) and her dreams of Hollywood stardom? Does Mom’s (Elizabeth Pena: The Incredibles) sudden threat of divorce from Dad (Alfred Molina: Silk) mean this is their last holiday together? The cast is appealing, honest, and authentic (well, apart from the fact that Molina is not Hispanic), but the story less so, relying on some unenunciated healing power of family to magically hand everyone the “right” major life decisions at the last moment… decisions that appear to spring from nothing we’ve seen before, except that, apparently, family makes you wise. It makes for an entirely predictable yet paradoxically anticlimatic movie.

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