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It's a shame that most people probably will skip this film - because
it's a good holiday film with a good message behind it. While you have
films like Four Christmases out that are the same romcom you've seen 38
times in holiday format, Nothing Like The Holidays brings the audience
together as one for a good family experience.
NLTH boasts a great ensemble cast that really makes things work well, as each character is unique and genuinely interesting. I especially enjoyed the work from Freddy Rodriguez and Alfred Molina. Elizabeth Pena provides a great balance of comedy and drama as the matriarch of the family. Her role looked like a great role to play for any actress, as she got to be funny, as well as at the dramatic center of the movie. Debra Messing was also noteworthy and great.
NLTH is a holiday movie (really, Spy, I had no idea), so it plays out as such. However, this is okay, because the script is original and tugs at you emotionally, always reminding the viewer of the importance of a strong family bond. There's a nice little twist in the end that pretty much explains everything that's gone on and ends the movie nicely, happily, and joyfully. You'll no doubt leave the theater a little more cheerful once you see this film.
During the holiday season, Nothing Like The Holidays is a great movie to watch with your family, as you'll see some stuff you can relate to, and some stuff you can laugh at. It's a fun time for everyone, and the first truly original holiday movie to come around in the last few years. Kudos to everyone involved.
(Synopsis) The whole Rodriguez family is rejoicing and celebrating the
reunion of all of their family members coming together to be with their
father, Edy Rodriguez (Alfred Molina), and their mother, Anna
(Elizabeth Pena), in their Chicago home during Christmas. They have
come from around the world, especially, their youngest son, Jesse
(Freddy Rodriguez), who has just returned from Iraq after being
wounded. Jesse's older sister, Roxanna (Vanessa Ferlito), is a
struggling actress who flew in from Los Angeles. The oldest son,
Mauricio (John Leguizamo), is a successful attorney married to Sarah
(Debra Messing), a hedge fund manager who drove in from Manhattan. The
children are surprised when their mother announces to them at the
dinner table that she wants a divorce, and their father doesn't even
put up a fight. The entire family is put into an uproar and begins to
question their future.
(My Comment) This story is a slice of ethnic life focusing on the Puerto Rican community in west Chicago's Humboldt Park district with a predominantly Latino cast. A large part of the movie was filmed inside the house with everybody joking around, arguing, and reconnecting with each other. The storyline is exactly like any family saga, but told with a different accent. The script is fairly predictable with no unexpected moments; you know exactly what is coming next. As in all families, when a real crisis happens, the whole family comes together. There are several scenes that tend to be contrived. Overall this Christmas movie is entertaining and can be enjoyed by all, and not only an ethnic audience. (Overture Films, Run Time 1:33, Rated PG-13)(6/10)
Sort of a Puerto Rican version of "The Family Stone", this holiday
movie may be lacking in originality but more than makes up for it with
it's humor and heart. Very talented cast of actors, especially Freddy
Rodriguez, John Leguizamo, and Alfred Molina make this family one you
care about. I certainly didn't mind spending an hour and a half getting
to know them.
My only criticism was Debra Messing who never quite had a handle on who her character was; at first seeming like an uptight bitch but then making a far-fetched complete turnaround. I also thought that the subplot with Jay Rodriguez's character seeking revenge on the man who had murdered his brother was underwritten and overall not necessary for this story.
But these are small bones to pick. The movie ultimately achieved its goal; it entertained me and gave me a much needed reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
The title gives the impression that this will be a clichéd holiday
flick that won't take long to be forgotten. However, while Alfredo De
Villa's 'Nothing Like The Holidays' may have a similar story outline to
other Christmas holiday flicks but what makes this stand out is the
humour, the wonderful ensemble cast and the richness of the Puerto
Rican culture. They story, though familiar, has heart. Movies like 'The
Family Stone' come to mind but 'Nothing Like The Holidays' stays true
to its story and characters unlike the aforementioned example. I liked
that it did not have a fairy-tale ending.
What's also impressive is that that character and situations in the movie are easy to relate to and recognizable. The family Rodriguez very much felt like a real family. Each family member and their friends, Ozzy and Johnny carry their own burden but there is a strong bond of love and support that keeps them together. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments but 'Nothing Like The Holidays' can also be described as an interesting family drama and the themes such as sibling rivalry, reconciliation and forgiveness are well handled. I enjoyed how the Puerto Rican culture was brought by the family. It felt very natural and authentic.
Needless to say, the entire cast has done nothing short of an excellent job. Initially, it was a bit awkward to see John Leguizamo play Elizabeth Peña's son but after a few minutes of watching their interaction, I managed to look past that and enjoy the characters. It was also good to finally see Debra Messing in a movie where she is given a role of substance instead of 'the sidekick friend' or 'cheating wife'. Alfred Molina brilliantly downplays his part. The romance between Ozzie and Roxanna, played delightfully by Jay Hernandez and Vanessa Ferlito forms a nice little subplot. Melonie Diaz has a strong presence. Luis Guzman is the comic relief and Freddy Rodriguez is simply great. To sum it up, the cast seemed to have superbly worked off each other and as a result they were really convincing as a likable but real family.
In my opinion, 'Nothing Like The Holidays' is much superior to most Christmas holiday flicks. A great movie to watched with loved ones and even though it feels familiar, its charm, humour, treatment, culture and heart make it worthy.
If you can envision mixing Thomas Bezucha's "The Family Stone" (2005)
with Lin-Manuel Miranda's "In the Heights" (still running on Broadway),
you will get a rough idea of what this 2008 family drama is all about.
It's refreshing to see a holiday feature focused on the vibrancy of the
Hispanic community, and director Alfredo De Villa does an energetic job
celebrating the ethnicity found in Chicago's Puerto Rican-dominated
Humboldt Park neighborhood. However, he gets little help from the
by-the-numbers screenplay by Rick Najera and Alison Swan, which is
mired in clichés and stock characters. The story works strictly within
predictable convention by using a Christmas family reunion as an excuse
for melodramatic revelations and confrontations among its members.
The plot elements are laid on thick. The Rodriguez family is headed by jovial bodega owner Edy, whose recently secretive behavior has convinced his hot-tempered wife Emma that he is having an affair. She unceremoniously announces at the family dinner table that she wants to file for a divorce. Oldest son Mauricio has become a smug, rather insufferable New Yorker and brings with him his high-powered wife Sarah, an uptight gringo on the verge of managing her own $300 million hedge fund. Much to Emma's chagrin, they have decided to put off having children to focus on their careers. Looking battle-weary and acting disengaged, younger son Jesse has just come home from a tour of duty in Iraq to find his ex-girlfriend settled down with another man. Daughter Roxanna is a struggling actress in LA whom the neighborhood thinks is going to be the next big star. Her life gets complicated by a budding romance with ex-gang member Ozzy, who is tormented by the shooting death of his brother. And as if it isn't obvious, an old, ugly tree in the Rodriguez front yard stands as a symbol of the family's solidarity.
All the characters are sketched in broad strokes rather than developed with nuance, so the film feels more suitable as a TBS TV show. Nonetheless, the cast is likable and sometimes a bit more when given the chance. Alfred Molina ("Spider-Man 2"), a Brit of Spanish-Italian ancestry, has mastered a diverse array of ethnic roles in his career and plays Edy with convincing Latino flavor. Elizabeth Peña ("Lone Star") is a welcome sight as Emma. A surprisingly restrained John Leguizamo ("Moulin Rouge!") plays Mauricio, and an unsurprising Debra Messing ("Will and Grace") plays to type as Sarah. Effective albeit limited work comes from Vanessa Ferlito ("Grindhouse") as Roxana, Jay Hernandez ("World Trade Center") as Ozzy, and Luis Guzmán providing comic relief as a jokester cousin obsessed with his hair. The film's best performance comes from Freddy Rodriguez (Federico in "Six Feet Under") who realistically conveys Jesse's pain with a minimum of help from the trite script. Paul Oakenfold contributes the percolating soundtrack. The 200 DVD offers an entertaining commentary track from De Villa, Rodriguez, and producer Robert Teitel; a 12-minute featurette that reunites some of the cast members to discuss the making of the film; the original theatrical trailer; and the inescapable blooper reel.
There has been nothing on a Holiday film told from the point-of-view of a Latino family. That is until "Nothing Like The Holidays". Being a latino myself, at first I was dubious that this theme would fly and devour creativity in a Holiday film. I mean all I would have to do is videotape my own family Holiday gatherings, put the footage in a film editing machine and there you have it= A latino Holiday flick. But I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the cinematic gift of "Nothing Like The Holidays". Alfred Molina and Elizabeth Pena play Edy & Anna Rodriguez, the paternal protagonists of the flick. Mr. E-Rod and Mrs. A-Rod (not the one you're thinking) reside in an area of Humboldt Park in west Chicago. They own a convenient grocery store. Freddy Rodriguez plays their military son Jesse who served in Iraq. John Leguizamo plays the eldest son Mauricio, a successful New York executive married to a career-driven gringa named Sarah portrayed by Debra Messing. And Vanessa Ferlito plays the saucy daughter Roxanna Rodriguez, an amateur actress living in Tinsletown. It is the Holidays, so the Rod Clan unites and shoot steroids. Oops, wrong Rodriguez story (Sorry A-Rod, the one you are thinking.) Anyways, The Rodriguez do reunite for Christmas and as many latinos would tell you "there is never a dull moment" when that ritual happens. The Latin Holiday dinners are filled with lechon, maduros, jamon, turrones, plenty of alcohol but of course there are spices of vivaciousness, neurosis, dominance, machismoism, and egoism. And there is plenty of that in the Rodriguez clan and even leftovers for their close friends. Let's just say that "Silent Night" is not the Latino Christmas Theme Song. Eventual subplots of The Rodriguez Bunch are what create the plot line toys of "Nothing Like The Holidays". But I will not scrooge it up and open that plot present, and let you see for yourself. Director Alfredo De Villa developed an effective relational latino Christmas character village in helming the film. And Writers Greetings goes out to Screenwriters Alison Swan and Rick Najera for their entertaining and endearing screenplay. The acting ensemble of the film was not lacking with authentic thespian presence, but Alfred Molina and Freddy Rodriguez performances were the ones in the acting wonderland department. However, top acting nods here goes to Debra Messing for her grand performance; you just don't mess with the Messing! I did also enjoy strong supporting work from Jay Rodriguez and the great Luis Guzman as friends of the family. To wrap it up, "Nothing Like The Holidays" is something for the Holidays to make you smile! **** Good
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Latino family gets together for Christmas and to welcome home one of
their number from Iraq.
Good solid family drama Shines thanks to a super cast (Alfred Molina, Elizabeth Pena, John Leguizamo, Luis Guzman, etc etc). To be certain the story is a bit cliché but the cast handless it with a great skill and they turn all of their characters into real people. Even Debra Messing as the one Caucasian in the bunch is fine once she sheds the fish out of water shtick she's handed. Its so nice to see what real actors can do to turn a well worn tale of a holiday home coming into something touching and affecting.
Worth a look and repeated revisits,
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well it's Christmas, and it's about time that the Latin community had a
few inside jokes to laugh about during the holidays. Nothing Like the
Holidays is the story of the "typical" Puerto Rican family living in
Chicago. The snow is on the ground, the holiday spirit is in the air,
and on a middle class street, the Rodriguez family is cooking more than
just arroz con pollo for Christmas dinner. The entire film is
definitely an inside joke for that Latin-American community,
particularly the Puerto Rican community. Having a Puerto Rican
background myself, I couldn't help but notice that my mother and I were
the only ones laughing out loud during the movie, (Keep in mind however
we were the only Puerto Ricans in the theatre). The film lets the
audience get a look at a Puerto Rican family without having to get to
close to the real thing, and is honestly a well put together
dramatic-comedy. The film could have definitely been more then what it
was, I felt like the filmmakers started to get the juice out and
stopped when they had enough to make a Mango Mojito. However the
one-and- a- half ounces of rum were enough to keep you giggling. All in
all the story line was acceptable, the performances from everyone were
enjoyable, and the film was not afraid to tell an insider or two that
will make the latinos laugh, while their non-latino company can't help
but wonder why John Leguizamo's rambling about the "Fried Pork y
Chuletas" sent of his house is in any way funny. An instant Latino
classic, and overall worth the price of admission.
-Jesse Alexander Ramos
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Now what can be so different about a family reunion holiday tape film.
They are mostly WASP family & there have been many such films, WHAT is so different about this.
It is an Hispanic (Puerto Rican) family.
The large cast is made up of the Who's-Who of Hispanic actors. These are usually supporting players in other films. They ARE among others.
Alfred Molina---- Elizabeth Pena---Luiz Guzman, Freddy Rodriquez---Jay Herrnandez---John Lequizano, Debra Messing. they all are first rate.
The story line is more of a drama than a comedy, It is quite typical of many non-anglo stories which do not rely on comic hi-jinks or bawdy humor to get the meaning across.
Thankfully it does not get tragic, just enough hints of what has happened before.
The director was Alfredo DeVille, Alison Swan and Rick Najera wrote the screenplay.
This takes place in the Humboldt Park are of Chicago at Christmas time.
This is the type movie I could see this year as well.
I was tempted to give this a higher rating even; It is that good.
The movies does drag a bit & seems longer than it is,
Ratings:*** (out of 4) 89 points (out of 100) IMDb 8 (out of 10)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Christmas has become so commercialized, no thanks to Santa Claus and
the spirit of consumerism having to buy, buy, and buy some more to meet
those pesky wish-lists of friends and family. I guess there's this feel
good feeling to this holiday because it's just at the edge of the new
year, and it's the spirit of sharing good tidings, and to look forward
to better things ahead in the new year. But I share similar sentiments
with the head of the Puerto Rican Rodriguez household, that it should
be none other than a festival to have everyone get together.
Edy Rodriguez (Alfred Molina) and wife Anna (Elizabeth Pena) look forward to Christmas because it's a time where family members far and wide, and doing their own thing, get to come back home to share in the festive spirit. This year's gathering is all the more special, because son Jesse (Freddy Rodriguez) is permanently home from his tour of duty in Iraq. There's eldest son Mauricio (John Leguizamo) and his wife Sarah (Debra Messing) who are two accomplished corporate folks in New York, and daughter Roxanna (Vanessa Ferlito) who's a Hollywood star in the waiting. Add friends such as Johnny (Luis Guzman) and Ozzy (Jay Hernandez) and you have one happening get together party, right?
Not quite, as the veneer of what would be a joyous occasion, get marred by everyone bringing their baggage to the table. Anna and Edy contemplate divorce, Jesse gets flak for being the hero, as well as being co-opted to run the family provision shop business. He also continues to nurse an aching heart toward ex flame Marissa (Melonie Diaz) who has now moved on. Mauricio and Sarah's marriage get strained by her refusal to bear children because of an impending promotion which she doesn't want to jeopardize. Roxanna is nowhere near being a star, still stuck at bit parts on television. Whew!
While billed as a comedy, it's not laugh a minute, even though there were a couple of smart one-liners to tickle your funny bone. Instead, it's quite a thoughtful drama to see how each character navigates through the sea of their own problems, and whether they are able to come out tops. And everyone could identify with one or more of the characters, especially in their attitudes toward family member, being envious of the more successful sibling, of favouritism, of being at loggerheads, of reconciliation, and ultimately, the notion of blood being thicker than water.
Not all subplots get resolved amicably and reasonably, which roots this film to a tinge of realism rather than opting for a feel good fairy taled styled finale where every loose end gets tied up with a smile. Which makes this film stand out amongst the crowd of feel good Christmas theme movies out there this season. It's quite a compelling drama to sit through despite some story threads being just a little bit bare, but for the powerful ensemble cast pulling everything through as a convincing family unit, you might want to invest some time on this film as well.
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