All of us have them: that dysfunctional family that you don’t want to deal most of the time, can barely tolerate, and find yourself at odds with. But deep down, you find yourself needing them, and wanting them around because they’re your family, for better or worse. There have been many great films that depict the complications and brutal honesty between family, such as The Family Stone, The Royal Tenenbaums, Ordinary People, and even The Godfather trilogy. However, if there is one such movie that is always overlooked, it is iconic actress/director Jodie Foster’s 1995 gem, Home For The Holidays. It’s about food, family, and finding solace with the ones you love, even if they really irritate you.
The great Holly Hunter stars as Claudia, who in a short span of 36 hours, gets fired from her job, smooches her boss, and learns that her daughter (Claire Danes) plans to go all the way with her boyfriend. Things go from bad to hilariously worse when she visits her family to endure the most traumatic of trials: Thanksgiving with the family! Dealing with her neurotic mother (the late Anne Bancroft), quirky father (the late Charles Durning), eccentric gay brother (Robert Downey, Jr), and erratically ‘normal’ sister (Cynthia Stevenson), Claudia tries to maintain what’s left of her sanity. But as an attractive new suitor (Dylan McDermott) enters the picture, she eventually realizes that the most important moments in her life are those with her family, no matter how strange and out there they really are.
What struck me the most about Home is the realism that surfaces the entire film. It really captured the weirdness and commonly awkward events that we all have with our families, and the understanding that somehow in the end, they are always there whenever you need them. With this and her previous directorial effort, Little Man Tate (1991), Foster proves that she is just as incredibly talented behind the camera as she is in front of it. There is also the great ensemble cast, including an arguably never-better Hunter, Bancroft, Durning, Downey Jr, and Stevenson. McDermott also has a strong presence as Hunter’s hunky love interest; movie legend Geralding Chaplin adds to the hilarity as Aunt Glady, and an unusually straight Steve Guttenberg does a great job as the uptight brother-in-law. Although the film doesn’t particularly break any new ground, it still proves that with a strong cast, a movie can be elevated even over common material.
Obviously, being a first-time Blu-ray release, there’s not going to be many special features, and that’s a shame considering that the movie is actually pretty good. There’s a vintage commentary by Foster, theatrical trailer, and photo gallery. It would have been great to have some new interviews with Foster, Hunter, Downey Jr., McDermott, and Stevenson, tributes to Bancroft and Durning, and maybe some deleted scenes, but we have to make due with what we have in front of us. Let’s just be thankful that we finally have a new release of a very underrated family dramedy.
I hope Home For The Holidays will find a whole new audience, because it is really worth the watch, especially over the holidays. It should definitely be essential to those who want their own escape from conflicts by laughing and relating to those of other families, even under a certain running time.