"Home For The Holidays": the title alone supplies more than adequate reason for me to play the Fontella Bass classic "Rescue Me" full blast and scream along with the lyrics. The movie starts promisingly with Holly Hunter making out with her guilt-ridden, wimpy boss seconds after he's fired her. After her daughter drives her to the airport, she tells Mom that she's going to have sex with her boyfriend and Holly drifts home in a fog. A bit actor in the back seat of the car next to her on the freeway steals a scene with a long sideways glance that says "Oh my God, four days of this" better than 105 minutes of dialogue. But we get the 105 minutes of dialogue, too, unless we split, which I was sorely tempted to do since a film noir called "Crime Wave" was playing across town.
Claire Danes was billed seventh, though, so I stuck around even though she has even less screen time here than she did in "How To Make an American Quilt". She gave up "My So-Called Life" to do virtual walk-ons on the big screen? What a waste of her many gifts and David Straithairn, a big star in John Sayles films, pours his talent into a sliver of a sequence, sigh. At least everyone looks cute in this movie, but they're all cast wrong. Robert Downey, Jr. is supposed to be a lovable gay motormouth, well, one out of three. Daddy Charles Durning is supposed to be the love of daft Aunt Geraldine Chaplin's life.
Chaplin unconvincingly adds twelve years to her actual age and her caricature of Anne Bancroft's mad sister is straight out of looney tunes. Brother-in-law Steve Guttenberg acts like he's trying out for Mr. Hyde & likable Cynthia Stevenson is no one's idea of the sister from hell. Holly Hunter and Dylan McDermott are the least revolting participants in this melange, but that's not saying much. I suspect that everyone was overawed by the chance to make a picture with Jodie Foster and no one said, "Whoa, wait a minute, is there a single person here that anyone's going to give a damn-&-a-half about?" And I guess some folks will watch this mess & chuckle, "What a bunch of characters. Just like my family, but that's their problem.
After the movie, I tried to clear my head by watching a grade-Z film noir called "Murder Is My Beat". It stunk, but at least I didn't have to watch Robert Downey, Jr. carve a turkey or listen to Geraldine Chaplin fart. "Home for the Holidays" escapes nationally this week.
Copyright 1995 Monica Sullivan
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