Nothing Like the Holidays Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ October 3, 2010
nothing like a Latino Christmas movie in October:-) I've seen better, but I've seen a LOT worse("Surviving Christmas" anyone?)
Super Reviewer
½ December 4, 2009
A refreshing Christmas movie, without the trash that has recently been found in the newer Christmas movies. Luis Guzman has an outstanding performance in this movie. Shows the true feelings of a solider coming home and dealing with his emotions. What we have here is a Puerto Rican family celebrating a Christmas together. This one is worth getting and sitting back with open mind to enjoy. 4 1/2 stars from me. Merry Christmas
Ryan M
Super Reviewer
½ December 29, 2011
*** out of ****

If one can get past the countless remakes, modernized adaptations, and clichéd love stories that tend to identify with most Christmas fare in the service of film; a film such as "Nothing Like the Holidays" might just come off as, oh I don't know, refreshing. It's a good old fashion family comedy; taking place during the holidays and dealing with a very big family. And while this is, in theory, an ordinary family - how many recent Christmas films are composed of an almost all Latino cast?

As one can predict, I'm about to dedicate an entire paragraph to naming the different members of the family; both by blood and extended. It mostly consists of parents, their kids (all of whom have grown up), and some long-time family friends. The parents are Edy (Alfred Molina) and Anna Rodriguez (Elizabeth Pena); the kids are Jesse (Freddy Rodriguez), actress Roxanne (Vanessa Ferlito), and Mauricio (John Leguizamo); the friends include Mauricio's wife Sarah (Debra Messing), thug-type Ozzy (Jay Hernandez), Jesse's ex-girlfriend Marissa(Melonie Diaz), and flamboyant joker Johnny (Luis Guzman).

Jesse has just returned home from Iraq; and his family embraces him with open arms. Everyone is at home for the holidays; and it appears to have been a while since this has last happened. Once everyone has arrived, the great big family settles down for a nice dinner; which ends on a not-so-nice note. There are tensions and personal demons brought to the table amongst the good food; which will get in the way of the family's happiness throughout the story.

There's a secret that father Edy feels he must keep, the possibility of a divorce for him and Anna, and some flawed relationships between other characters as well. But as you can probably tell, this is a Christmas comedy of warmth and heart; thus, everything will turn out for the best in the end. We know this - when walking in, at least - and if we're smart enough, we won't hold it against the film that it's as predictable as it is. Christmas movies almost always have to follow some sort of formula - especially when they're in the mainstream - nowadays, and "Nothing Like the Holidays" is one of the best holiday comedies I've seen in a long time. It may be sappy, but not in an annoying or preachy way. It's heartfelt, funny, and honest.

For starters, the screenplay is smart; and it works, in part, because of the casting, which simply couldn't be any better. The actors get to be themselves in each individual role; and we sense that they are having fun with it all the way through. But then again, there are a few moments in the film meant to elicit some kind of emotion - perhaps one that is even, say, strong - so these performers are required to break free from the joy and develop into something more and something deeper, if only for a few moments. They are more than capable of doing so.

The film is set in Chicago; a good choice of location for the story, I think. It gives the characters a lot to do, and some places to go, especially when certain ones (in particular) need some private time with a selected other. There's a wonderful scene where Roxanne and Ozzy go for a stroll at a local ice-rink; the conversation is heartfelt, the location is a perfect fit, and the atmosphere is warm enough to drown out the cold. There is indeed a surplus of other wonderful scenes to top it off in this movie; although it wouldn't do me much good to describe all - or any more - of them. I might lose some credibility.

Think about why you go to Christmas movies in the first place. Do you go to simply watch the movie and bitch about it afterwards? Do you hate the predictability, the melodrama, and (gasp) even the warmth of the moment? If you're that sort of Grinch, then you won't find anything to like from this film; because it picks a narrative style and that is one of tradition. Sure, the film has its flaws - there are a lot of characters and therefore a lot of stories; some of them are better explored and fleshed-out than others - but that didn't stop me from accepting the fact that "Nothing Like the Holidays" is simply nothing like most of the other Christmas movies of recent. And if that, a great cast, smart dialogue, and a lot of heart aren't enough to truly satisfy you; then you've got a nigh incurable case of killjoy.
Super Reviewer
½ August 18, 2010
Every holiday season brings a selection of flicks calculated to give moviegoers a saccharine sweet viewing experience. More often than not, however, these forgettable lackluster efforts often seem earmarked for the discount bin of the local video store from the get-go. Try as it might, the well-intentioned Nothing Like the Holidays cannot fight this fickle finger of fatalism. The casting rings perfectly but the story panders to so many clichés and stock characters that the audience will be feeling like they are experiencing holiday déjà vu all over again. Moviegoers will laugh, they will cry, and they just might sleep too.

In this PG-13-rated dramedy, secrets are revealed and bonds put to the test when the far-flung Rodriguez family (Leguizamo, Rodriguez, et al) reunites in Chicago at Christmastime.

The cast?s game players certainly invest a lot of verve into the film, which boosts its likeability tenfold. The ensemble-composed of John Leguizamo, Freddy Rodriguez, Jay Hernandez, Alfred Molina, Elizabeth Pena, Melonie Diaz, Luis Guzman, Vanessa Ferlito, and Debra Messing-give the project their all. This bullishness, however, does not stop the fact that John Q. Moviegoer has eaten this sort of fruitcake before?and countless times to boot. Personalities clash, revelations are made, love rears its head, and pratfalls ensue. The Hispanic infusion lends the material uniqueness, but the movie ultimately falters by shouldering each character (and filmgoer) with an axe to grind. The storyline involving Hernandez?s gun-toting vendetta will surely set eyes a-rolling. Still, if good intentions were gradable, the movie would get high marks.

Bottom line: Nothing doing.
Super Reviewer
November 27, 2008
A family drama, which has it's share of laughs and tear-jerking moments. Acting is good all around, even if I was watching it off season, I enjoyed it.
Super Reviewer
December 21, 2008
So-so. Being so that I'm puertorican.
Super Reviewer
½ December 3, 2008
It honestly felt like a [INSERT RACIAL/CULTURAL MINORITY HERE] family comedy/drama about the awkwardness of coming home to spend Christmas with the family. You could insert any race or culture you want and it wouldn't have felt new or refreshing. You have the psychologically-screwed-up son coming home from war in Iraq (Freddie Rodriguez), the actress daughter who embellishes her success (Vanessa Ferlito), and of course the other son who is married to a woman of a different race/culture/religion and has no kids (John Leguizamo and Debra Messing). Then of course, there's the tension between the matriarch and patriarch. I was hoping this movie was going to be so much more than it was, but it felt kinda flaccid. I even thought Luis Guzman, who I love, would liven things up with random wisecracks, but they fell flat too. Everything about it was predictable, it brought nothing new to the table, which makes it all the more disappointing when you have hilarious comedians like Guzman and Leguizamo starring. Skip this one.
Super Reviewer
½ July 17, 2008
Great holiday movie that centralizes around a close-knit family celebrating Christmas together. The Rodriguez family welcome the return of family member Jesse from his last tour, and the return of Roxanna (who has not returned in years). Mauricio and Sarah both being bombarded about questions of whether children will arrive quickly or not. Filled with lots of drama, laughter, and an everlasting strong bond of familial ties.
Great cast- Freddy Rodriguez, Alfred Molina, Elizabeth Peña, John Leguizamo, Jay Hernandez, Debra Messing, Vanessa Ferlito, Luiz Guzman, and Melonie Diaz. Worth seeing!
Super Reviewer
½ December 19, 2008
I really liked this movie! I was pleasantly surprised. Good cast, and the family relationships felt real to me. Very cute!
Super Reviewer
½ November 29, 2009
It was okay to watch once, but I don't think I'd watch it again. There were a lot of talented people in the cast, but it was more like a lifetime movie - something entertaining to watch in passing.
Super Reviewer
December 18, 2008
Wow. I didn't think I was going to like this movie, and although it's no Christmas classic, it was really good. Even with the family turmoil it came across as a positive type of movie. I never knew there were so many notable hispanic actors, and they put almost all of my favorites into this one movie.
April 25, 2012
A film with heart and family values revisited, but sadly slow-paced: the transition shots were often too disconnected and distant. It felt as if time had gone by as if we sat waiting to see the next week's episode, except this wasn't a TV series, this was just over an hour and a half full-length feature. The elements were present, but the execution was a bit disappointing.
October 31, 2009
It was cute, it was funny...Guzman was a scene stealin' feine. Worth the look especially being a holiday movie and it is the holidays now...
June 7, 2010
finally a X mas movie that gets the balance right between funny & pathos the all star cast makes the most out of every scene.
½ May 2, 2010
Solid, entertaining film. God acting, good cast and identifiable story. Slice of life, but not boring. Not just for Hispanics.
½ February 23, 2010
Nothing amazing but still a good movie. The cast looks great on paper but didn't click 100 percent on screen. They still did a good job though, just more individually then as a group. There is not just one main story, there are several different story lines going on at the same time and that might be the problem. Not a bad movie but defiantly a little scatterbrained.
½ September 24, 2008
A very unexpected holiday movie. I would retitle this 'Nothing Like the Family Drama', but it was very enjoyable.
½ November 29, 2009
I hate christmas movies... but my mother loves them. This one wasn't exactly like the others i've seen, sure it had the same cheesy atmosphere (near the end) but it was a much darker film.
½ November 5, 2009
I enjoyed this movie, good holiday movie - however I feel that they tried to change family stone into a latino movie.
November 2, 2009
You have to be Latino to appreciate this film. If you're not, you just won't get it. Lots of great Latino talent and a great storyline. A typical Latino family!
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