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Robert Kouba Senior,
In LA's Fairfax district, where ethnic groups abound, four households celebrate Thanksgiving amidst family tensions. In the Nguyen family, the children's acculturation and immigrant parents' fears collide. In the Avila family, Isabel's son has invited her estranged husband to their family dinner. Audrey and Ron Williams want to keep their own family's ruptures secret from Ron's visiting mother. In the Seelig household, Herb and Ruth are unwilling to discuss openly their grown daughter's living with her lover, Carla. Around each table, things come to a head. A gun, an affair, a boyfriend, and a pregnancy precipitate crises forcing each family to find its center. Written by
This movie is a comedy about the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. It follows four families (black, Latino, Jewish, and Vietnamese) during their holiday celebrations, with all the messes that crop up during big family gatherings. Each of the families has its own problems, which are to some extent intertwined.
An example of one of the family messes: A young man in the Latino family bumps into his father (who had moved out some time earlier) at the grocery store, and invites him to Thanksgiving dinner. His mother is furious, because she doesn't want anything to do with her estranged husband, particularly during a big holiday event.
The acting and directing are very good, but the writing and editing are really wonderful. The cast is huge, but the editing manages to make it easy for the audience to keep track of everyone. It's full of laughs (and some light drama), but aside from some stereotyping, mostly realistic. Even though there are quite a number of name actors, the screen time is divided among the cast to fit the story, not to fit the actors' egos -- an impressive balancing act for the director and producers.
The food scenes, aside from a few kitchen disasters, were enough to inspire quite an appetite. It's a good thing the Seattle International Film Festival scheduled the screening in the afternoon, so I could have dinner right after the movie.
This is one of the best recent comedies I've seen.
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