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Click above to purchase "Home For The Holidays"
Home For The Holidays
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 103 minutes
Starring Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., Anne
Bancroft and Charles Durning
Screenplay by W.D. Richter
Based on a Short Story by Chris Radant
Directed by Jodie Foster
Retail Price: $19.98
Features: Audio Commentary with Jodie Foster,
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby
Digital 5.1 Surround, French Stereo Surround, English Closed
Captions, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene
Selections (16 Scenes)
Jodie Foster steps behind the camera for a second time
with "Home For The Holidays," a rather funny and interesting
story of family affairs. The film finds Claudia Larson
(Holly Hunter), who seems to be having the worst day of her
life. She's just lost her job and after that, comes to face
that her daughter (Claire Danes) plans to lose her virginity
while she's away. So where is Claudia going? Why, home of
course! It's thanksgiving in Baltimore with the family.
While Claudia is not looking forward to it, she comes to
realize what family is and where she's from, as well as who
she is. Add in a a set of interesting parents (Anne Bancroft
and Charles Durning) and a gay brother (Robert Downey Jr.),
and you have a rather sweet comedy of new self-discovery.
"Home For The Holidays" is a rather interesting movie,
however, I felt within it all it felt flawed. W.D. Richter,
perhaps best known for directing "Buckaroo Banzai," crafts a
rather interesting screenplay here from Chris Radant's short
story. I'm sure all of us, and I mean all of us, can relate
to something in this movie as far as the past, childhood and
family does go. Yet what I really think makes this movie so
good for what it is is how it touches a lot of right notes,
making things generally warm and funny. While there is
laughter and inspired moments within the film, there is also
a lot of great character development. This movie is fairly
realistic and three dimensional in its development and
evolution. We even sorta feel like we know people just like
those in the film, and I think that's what Foster was going
for. Still, I felt at times things did fall a little short
and things weren't fleshed out as they really could have
been. Things also appear a bit dull at times too, and I felt
there could have some better resolvment. Overall though,
this is a nice story that really brings upon true themes and
issues that are important.
Foster does another great job directing, as there is
great subdued meaning within characters and images. Her
pacing is very nice (I like how things are divided up with
titles) and she establishes good shots so we feel like we're
part of this whole mess of a family. Her visual style in
this movie is rather standard and not so cinematic, but
there is good stuff here and there is a flow to what she
does. Foster is really a great director.
The cast though is what brings this movie to life. Holly
Hunter is dead-on perfect as Claudia, as she captures the
characters and creates fine chemistry with everyone else.
Durning and Bancroft make a fine set of parents who play off
one another well, while McDermott and Downey Jr. also bring
great touches to the movie. Downey is rather charimastic and
charming (like usual) and brings a great sense to the
brother role. And even Steve Guttenberg himself drops by!
I wouldn't call "Home For The Holidays" one of my
favorite comedies, but this is a comedy that has something
others don't: the laughs here aren't cheap but rather true.
This movie is really character driven, rather than laugh
driven, and that is certainly a good thing. The ensemble is
magnificant, the screenplay is fine and Foster's directing
is sweet and gentle. If you have not seen it, "Home For The
Holidays" is worth checking out.
Ech. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is really
flawed. I suppose the soft hazy look on the transfer could
fit within the film's context, but the fuzzy look, lack of
detail and undersaturated as well as underwhelming colors
just make this movie look so hazy and ugly. Black levels are
weak as well. Blemishes, scratches, pieces of dirt,
artifacting and assorted marks are literally all over this
print in what seems to be every frame. It's very annoying
and very distracting. The movie is only six years old, but
this transfer, sadly, makes it seem much older. I really
wish MGM bothered to clean it up.
Wow, the 5.1 Dolby Digital English track is certainly
impressive and really gives off a better than expected
experience. Still, while it fits with the movie, it's
nothing incredible and the sound does have problems. I heard
some hiss and background noise in some scenes that were not
so pleasing. In any case, background noises are nicely used.
Traffic jams, plates being passed around, glass churning and
the whole dinner scene brings a nice amount of life to the
mix. .1 LFE is surprisingly good while the music, especially
during the opening credits, sound very nice and again, give
good life to the mix. Dialogue is crisp and easy to hear,
while no sounds overpower the other and everything blends in
together nicely. English closed captions, French subtitles
and Spanish subtitles are included, plus a French Stereo
I loved the
Man Tate commentary, so I was pleased to find another
Audio Commentary with Jodie Foster for her second
directing outing. Like "Tate," this commentary is also
really strong and Foster just sits down and fires off with
so much great and assorted information. However, I was a bit
disappointed as Foster offers quite a few pauses, while in
the Tate commentary she just kept talking. Still, the pauses
aren't a big deal and never last an incredibly long time,
but there were times where I got frusturated waiting for
comments. Foster shows much enthusiasm for the cast and crew
as well as the production itself. The movie was made outside
the studio system and Paramount released it in theaters, and
according to Foster they didn't have so much say (a good
thing). Foster also talks about the movie's issues and
themes, symbolisms and fun things - like how Hunter is a
long time poultry champion of sorts in her hometown.
Personally, I like the track itself better than the film as
Foster is very down to earth, intelligent and really talks
to you like she knows you. Fans of Foster, the movie and
those who check this out should not miss this commentary.
It's one of the best I've heard in a long time and well
worth listening to.
Also on this release is the full frame Theatrical
Trailer. For some reason, Paramount did not release this
title despite distributing it in theaters. The now defunct
Polygram produced it, and somehow it's winded back at MGM.
While I wouldn't call "Home For The Holidays" a recent
comedy that will be remembered as a favorite or for that
time of the season, it does offer what a lot of comedies
don't have: depth and great character development. While
it's not my favorite comedy, it does offer good laughs,
heartfelt characters and entertainment. While the transfer
is terrible, the sound is good and the extras are very nice,
the price is right so fans of the movie sould pick it up.
(3.5/5 - NOT included in
(2.5/5, NOT an average)