The Pressures of a Family Christmas More Honestly Portrayed
Some reviewers find this film not typical cheery holiday fare, comparing it to what they viewed as a happy Christmas film--It's A Wonderful Life--which, while a Christmas classic, could hardly be thought of as mindlessly cheerful, dealing as it does with the leading character's possible suicide and the likelihood of a divided town becoming a Potterville--where Lionel Barrymore and his bank win all the chips. Sure, the Capra tale has a happy ending, but the grim possibility of the little people losing their beloved homes to the banks seems a little prophetic in light of contemporary political gridlock and the foreclosure scandal. Its A Wonderful Life Is a fairy tale. A nice one, but a fairy tale. Nothing Like The Holidays is not. This little drama, hardly a comedy, is not typically mindless holiday fare, but an enjoyable watch, zeroing in on the problems that accumulate when a son returns at Christmas from Iraq to a family where his parents are considering divorce, a sister unable to make it as an actress, and a brother whose values seem to contrast with the Puerto Rican roots of his family. With Freddy Rodriguez, Alfred Molina, Debra Messing and John Leguziamo all giving strong and likable central performances, and a script that holds the attention from start to finish, this is probably a more accurate portrayal of the way families spend their Christmas today--the good and the bad things that happen when folks get together hoping for the best but knowing that there are ghosts in the closets that may slip out now and then--and while no masterpiece, the 98 minutes seem to be an honest reflection that perhaps will comfort those of us not living a fairy tale.
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