Home for the Holidays movie review, Jodie Foster, Holly Hunter, Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Robert Downey Jr. Review by Rob Blackwelder ©SPLICEDwire

A scene from 'Home for the Holidays'
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**** stars
113 minutes | Rated: PG-13
WIDE: Friday, November 3, 1995
Directed by Jodie Foster

Starring Holly Hunter, Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Robert Downey, Jr., Geraldine Chaplin, Dylan McDermott, Cynthia Stevenson, Claire Danes, Steve Guttenberg, David Strathairn, Shawn Hatosy


A great film to watch on TV because it's character driven and familiar. At times it could almost be a home movie.

Within the first three minutes, Foster's commentary track is so thoroughly engrossing and entertaining that it may glue to to your TV more than the movie does. She does a thorough job of describing her goals, inspirations, metaphors and thought processes in making the film (and some on-set details), and her details make you understand the characters even more completely.

In fact, the film is an even better film after watching it with this commentary track, and that's the best thing a commentary could ever do. This is the only bonus feature, but it's worth the price of the DVD all by itself. One of the most insightful, candid commentaries I've heard.


A good transfer. Both are fine. 5.1 Surround

RATIO: 1.85:1 (16x9 enhanced)
DUBS: French
SUBS: English, French, Spanish

DVD RATING: ***1/2

  • Thanksgiving movies
  • Jodie Foster
  • Holly Hunter
  • Anne Bancroft
  • Charles Durning
  • Robert Downey Jr.
  • Geraldine Chaplin
  • Dylan McDermott
  • Cynthia Stevenson
  • Claire Danes
  • David Strathairn
  • Shawn Hatosy

  •  LINKS for this film
    at movies.yahoo.com
    at Rotten Tomatoes
    at Internet Movie Database
    Foster's 2nd directorial effort a brilliantly spot-on, warts-and-all comedy about family 'Holidays'

    By Rob Blackwelder

    Holly Hunter is amazing. She is the kind of actress who so fully embodies a character that when watching her movies you get a sense of her character's whole life, not just the time she spends on the screen.

    She is such a talent that she can be in a serial killer thriller and in the funniest comedy of the year, in the same cineplex at the same time and even studio heads don't think it's overkill. And that's what has happened with the opening of the Jodie Foster-directed "Home for the Holidays."

    Hunter is the best she's ever been in this hilarious case-study comedy about a dotty family's Thanksgiving weekend. She plays a single mother who has been dreading the visit home to her folks' for weeks, but she feels obligated to attend against her better judgment.

    Her mother (Anne Bancroft) is shrewish, her father (Charles Durning) is scatterbrained, her sister (Cynthia Stevenson) is a control freak and her loving but prank-prone brother (Robert Downey, Jr.) is the kind of guy who lurches his car just a few feet forward as she reaches for the door handle.

    But this year she's laden with more than just family to cope with. Hours before her flight home she is fired from her job. Then her teenage daughter (the very talented Claire Danes from TV's "My So-Called Life"), who is spending the holiday with her boyfriend, announces, at the airport, that she's planning to lose her virginity while mommy's gone.

    Other actresses could gnaw through the funny lines of a part like this, but would likely choke on the depth of character. Hunter's subtle, nuanced humor is spot on. She says with a small facial register -- the look that passes over her after her daughter's declaration -- what on paper would take a page.

    One of the joys of "Home for the Holidays" is that it transcends the joke and delves deep into each character to provide a recognizable family of real people, yet does it within continual laughter. I honestly don't think I went fully three minutes without laughing out loud at this film.

    The attention to detail in "Holidays" is remarkable. From the tight-framed shot of the family in their car emphasizing how uncomfortable they are all together, to the sister's kids looking desperately to their mother for help when cornered for story telling by their great aunt who has a few loose screws (Geraldine Chaplin).

    Each role is so well written by W.D. Richter ("Invasion of the Body Snatchers," 1978 incarnation) that personality details which would define and restrict characters in a lesser script here are merely incidental -- the prankster brother is gay, but the family has known for years. It's a character trait and nothing more.

    "Home for the Holidays" should certainly garner several Oscar nominations. Hunter and Bancroft (a wonderful sourpuss) could both be nominated. The rich, insightful script certainly deserves a nod and Foster could collect her third Academy Award, this time as a director.

    It's really that good -- the kind of movie you describe in detail to your friends the day after seeing it.

    Had I the space (and you the patience) I'd bore you to death with all my favorite scenes, but suffice to say "Home for the Holidays" is an endearing comedy that will take it's place along side perennial video favorites. It's the "When Harry Met Sally" of holiday pictures.


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