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An Authentic Holiday Film Focusing on Family and Tradition
Nothing Like the Holidays is an extremely safe Christmas movie. That's not to say that it's not good, because trust me, it is. It's a film likely to win a lot of hearts with its focus on the one thing that everybody can relate to when it comes to the holidays: their family.
Nothing Like the Holidays could be considered an ethnic film. The cast is primarily made up of unknown Mexican actors (although the familiar faces of John Leguizamo and Luis Guzmán do give the film some credibility). A lot of the jokes may be catered towards a Mexican audience where the family rituals, relationships, and inside jokes may be more fully realized and understood. Regardless, I believe the film to be accessible to any audience willing to explore a Mexican take on the traditional Christmas movie.
Nothing Like the Holidays starts like any typical Christmas film. All the different members of the family are coming home for the holidays. For the Rodriquez family though, things are a bit different. They've got Jesse coming in from his most recent stint in Iraq as a member of the United States Army, Mauricio, the oldest brother making a name for himself in New York City, and Roxanna the struggling L.A. actress who everyone in the family thinks is a millionaire movie star from her recent stint on a made for television movie.
On top of the traditional family drama (ex girlfriends in town for the holiday, fights over when to have a baby, and the arguments over who will take over the family business) there's one other thing that seems to be tearing the Rodriquez family apart: the dinner table announcement that Ma and Pa will be getting a divorce...and P.S. it's non-negotiable.
The reason I really liked this film is because it felt so real. The use of unknown actors helped me believe in the authenticity of what was happening on screen. The Rodriquez family is your typical Mexican family. The holiday is meant to be spent together, and the kids will do anything to keep the family tradition alive. The in-attic conversations on how to get mom and dad back together, the one-on-one advice sessions between a father and a son in the army, and the intense subplot of a family member too scared to tell the family that he's sick all lead to the realness of this film. It may not be the most cheery Christmas movie, but in real life, the holidays are often everything but, so it's nice to see an authentic portrayal of a real family and what they go through during the Christmas season.
Nothing Like the Holidays isn't a well-known film, but I would recommend it as a solid entry into the overcrowded Christmas movie genre. It won't break ground, but it will win your heart, and what happens on screen is often funny, but always real, a characteristic that shouldn't be overlooked as you look for holiday films to rent this Christmas season.
Michael Buffa, Editor, Popcorn Jury http://www.popcornjury.com
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