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  • (Synopsis) The whole Rodriguez family is rejoicing and celebrating the reunion of all of their family members coming together to be with their father, Edy Rodriguez (Alfred Molina), and their mother, Anna (Elizabeth Pena), in their Chicago home during Christmas. They have come from around the world, especially, their youngest son, Jesse (Freddy Rodriguez), who has just returned from Iraq after being wounded. Jesse's older sister, Roxanna (Vanessa Ferlito), is a struggling actress who flew in from Los Angeles. The oldest son, Mauricio (John Leguizamo), is a successful attorney married to Sarah (Debra Messing), a hedge fund manager who drove in from Manhattan. The children are surprised when their mother announces to them at the dinner table that she wants a divorce, and their father doesn't even put up a fight. The entire family is put into an uproar and begins to question their future.

    (My Comment) This story is a slice of ethnic life focusing on the Puerto Rican community in west Chicago's Humboldt Park district with a predominantly Latino cast. A large part of the movie was filmed inside the house with everybody joking around, arguing, and reconnecting with each other. The storyline is exactly like any family saga, but told with a different accent. The script is fairly predictable with no unexpected moments; you know exactly what is coming next. As in all families, when a real crisis happens, the whole family comes together. There are several scenes that tend to be contrived. Overall this Christmas movie is entertaining and can be enjoyed by all, and not only an ethnic audience. (Overture Films, Run Time 1:33, Rated PG-13)(6/10)
  • It's a shame that most people probably will skip this film - because it's a good holiday film with a good message behind it. While you have films like Four Christmases out that are the same romcom you've seen 38 times in holiday format, Nothing Like The Holidays brings the audience together as one for a good family experience.

    NLTH boasts a great ensemble cast that really makes things work well, as each character is unique and genuinely interesting. I especially enjoyed the work from Freddy Rodriguez and Alfred Molina. Elizabeth Pena provides a great balance of comedy and drama as the matriarch of the family. Her role looked like a great role to play for any actress, as she got to be funny, as well as at the dramatic center of the movie. Debra Messing was also noteworthy and great.

    NLTH is a holiday movie (really, Spy, I had no idea), so it plays out as such. However, this is okay, because the script is original and tugs at you emotionally, always reminding the viewer of the importance of a strong family bond. There's a nice little twist in the end that pretty much explains everything that's gone on and ends the movie nicely, happily, and joyfully. You'll no doubt leave the theater a little more cheerful once you see this film.

    During the holiday season, Nothing Like The Holidays is a great movie to watch with your family, as you'll see some stuff you can relate to, and some stuff you can laugh at. It's a fun time for everyone, and the first truly original holiday movie to come around in the last few years. Kudos to everyone involved.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Latino family gets together for Christmas and to welcome home one of their number from Iraq.

    Good solid family drama Shines thanks to a super cast (Alfred Molina, Elizabeth Pena, John Leguizamo, Luis Guzman, etc etc). To be certain the story is a bit cliché but the cast handless it with a great skill and they turn all of their characters into real people. Even Debra Messing as the one Caucasian in the bunch is fine once she sheds the fish out of water shtick she's handed. Its so nice to see what real actors can do to turn a well worn tale of a holiday home coming into something touching and affecting.

    Worth a look and repeated revisits,
  • Sort of a Puerto Rican version of "The Family Stone", this holiday movie may be lacking in originality but more than makes up for it with it's humor and heart. Very talented cast of actors, especially Freddy Rodriguez, John Leguizamo, and Alfred Molina make this family one you care about. I certainly didn't mind spending an hour and a half getting to know them.

    My only criticism was Debra Messing who never quite had a handle on who her character was; at first seeming like an uptight bitch but then making a far-fetched complete turnaround. I also thought that the subplot with Jay Rodriguez's character seeking revenge on the man who had murdered his brother was underwritten and overall not necessary for this story.

    But these are small bones to pick. The movie ultimately achieved its goal; it entertained me and gave me a much needed reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
  • The title gives the impression that this will be a clichéd holiday flick that won't take long to be forgotten. However, while Alfredo De Villa's 'Nothing Like The Holidays' may have a similar story outline to other Christmas holiday flicks but what makes this stand out is the humour, the wonderful ensemble cast and the richness of the Puerto Rican culture. They story, though familiar, has heart. Movies like 'The Family Stone' come to mind but 'Nothing Like The Holidays' stays true to its story and characters unlike the aforementioned example. I liked that it did not have a fairy-tale ending.

    What's also impressive is that that character and situations in the movie are easy to relate to and recognizable. The family Rodriguez very much felt like a real family. Each family member and their friends, Ozzy and Johnny carry their own burden but there is a strong bond of love and support that keeps them together. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments but 'Nothing Like The Holidays' can also be described as an interesting family drama and the themes such as sibling rivalry, reconciliation and forgiveness are well handled. I enjoyed how the Puerto Rican culture was brought by the family. It felt very natural and authentic.

    Needless to say, the entire cast has done nothing short of an excellent job. Initially, it was a bit awkward to see John Leguizamo play Elizabeth Peña's son but after a few minutes of watching their interaction, I managed to look past that and enjoy the characters. It was also good to finally see Debra Messing in a movie where she is given a role of substance instead of 'the sidekick friend' or 'cheating wife'. Alfred Molina brilliantly downplays his part. The romance between Ozzie and Roxanna, played delightfully by Jay Hernandez and Vanessa Ferlito forms a nice little subplot. Melonie Diaz has a strong presence. Luis Guzman is the comic relief and Freddy Rodriguez is simply great. To sum it up, the cast seemed to have superbly worked off each other and as a result they were really convincing as a likable but real family.

    In my opinion, 'Nothing Like The Holidays' is much superior to most Christmas holiday flicks. A great movie to watched with loved ones and even though it feels familiar, its charm, humour, treatment, culture and heart make it worthy.
  • meeza18 February 2009
    There has been nothing on a Holiday film told from the point-of-view of a Latino family. That is until "Nothing Like The Holidays". Being a latino myself, at first I was dubious that this theme would fly and devour creativity in a Holiday film. I mean all I would have to do is videotape my own family Holiday gatherings, put the footage in a film editing machine and there you have it= A latino Holiday flick. But I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the cinematic gift of "Nothing Like The Holidays". Alfred Molina and Elizabeth Pena play Edy & Anna Rodriguez, the paternal protagonists of the flick. Mr. E-Rod and Mrs. A-Rod (not the one you're thinking) reside in an area of Humboldt Park in west Chicago. They own a convenient grocery store. Freddy Rodriguez plays their military son Jesse who served in Iraq. John Leguizamo plays the eldest son Mauricio, a successful New York executive married to a career-driven gringa named Sarah portrayed by Debra Messing. And Vanessa Ferlito plays the saucy daughter Roxanna Rodriguez, an amateur actress living in Tinsletown. It is the Holidays, so the Rod Clan unites and shoot steroids. Oops, wrong Rodriguez story (Sorry A-Rod, the one you are thinking.) Anyways, The Rodriguez do reunite for Christmas and as many latinos would tell you "there is never a dull moment" when that ritual happens. The Latin Holiday dinners are filled with lechon, maduros, jamon, turrones, plenty of alcohol but of course there are spices of vivaciousness, neurosis, dominance, machismoism, and egoism. And there is plenty of that in the Rodriguez clan and even leftovers for their close friends. Let's just say that "Silent Night" is not the Latino Christmas Theme Song. Eventual subplots of The Rodriguez Bunch are what create the plot line toys of "Nothing Like The Holidays". But I will not scrooge it up and open that plot present, and let you see for yourself. Director Alfredo De Villa developed an effective relational latino Christmas character village in helming the film. And Writers Greetings goes out to Screenwriters Alison Swan and Rick Najera for their entertaining and endearing screenplay. The acting ensemble of the film was not lacking with authentic thespian presence, but Alfred Molina and Freddy Rodriguez performances were the ones in the acting wonderland department. However, top acting nods here goes to Debra Messing for her grand performance; you just don't mess with the Messing! I did also enjoy strong supporting work from Jay Rodriguez and the great Luis Guzman as friends of the family. To wrap it up, "Nothing Like The Holidays" is something for the Holidays to make you smile! **** Good
  • If you can envision mixing Thomas Bezucha's "The Family Stone" (2005) with Lin-Manuel Miranda's "In the Heights" (still running on Broadway), you will get a rough idea of what this 2008 family drama is all about. It's refreshing to see a holiday feature focused on the vibrancy of the Hispanic community, and director Alfredo De Villa does an energetic job celebrating the ethnicity found in Chicago's Puerto Rican-dominated Humboldt Park neighborhood. However, he gets little help from the by-the-numbers screenplay by Rick Najera and Alison Swan, which is mired in clichés and stock characters. The story works strictly within predictable convention by using a Christmas family reunion as an excuse for melodramatic revelations and confrontations among its members.

    The plot elements are laid on thick. The Rodriguez family is headed by jovial bodega owner Edy, whose recently secretive behavior has convinced his hot-tempered wife Emma that he is having an affair. She unceremoniously announces at the family dinner table that she wants to file for a divorce. Oldest son Mauricio has become a smug, rather insufferable New Yorker and brings with him his high-powered wife Sarah, an uptight gringo on the verge of managing her own $300 million hedge fund. Much to Emma's chagrin, they have decided to put off having children to focus on their careers. Looking battle-weary and acting disengaged, younger son Jesse has just come home from a tour of duty in Iraq to find his ex-girlfriend settled down with another man. Daughter Roxanna is a struggling actress in LA whom the neighborhood thinks is going to be the next big star. Her life gets complicated by a budding romance with ex-gang member Ozzy, who is tormented by the shooting death of his brother. And as if it isn't obvious, an old, ugly tree in the Rodriguez front yard stands as a symbol of the family's solidarity.

    All the characters are sketched in broad strokes rather than developed with nuance, so the film feels more suitable as a TBS TV show. Nonetheless, the cast is likable and sometimes a bit more when given the chance. Alfred Molina ("Spider-Man 2"), a Brit of Spanish-Italian ancestry, has mastered a diverse array of ethnic roles in his career and plays Edy with convincing Latino flavor. Elizabeth Peña ("Lone Star") is a welcome sight as Emma. A surprisingly restrained John Leguizamo ("Moulin Rouge!") plays Mauricio, and an unsurprising Debra Messing ("Will and Grace") plays to type as Sarah. Effective albeit limited work comes from Vanessa Ferlito ("Grindhouse") as Roxana, Jay Hernandez ("World Trade Center") as Ozzy, and Luis Guzmán providing comic relief as a jokester cousin obsessed with his hair. The film's best performance comes from Freddy Rodriguez (Federico in "Six Feet Under") who realistically conveys Jesse's pain with a minimum of help from the trite script. Paul Oakenfold contributes the percolating soundtrack. The 200 DVD offers an entertaining commentary track from De Villa, Rodriguez, and producer Robert Teitel; a 12-minute featurette that reunites some of the cast members to discuss the making of the film; the original theatrical trailer; and the inescapable blooper reel.
  • jmc86015 December 2008
    Warning: Spoilers
    Well it's Christmas, and it's about time that the Latin community had a few inside jokes to laugh about during the holidays. Nothing Like the Holidays is the story of the "typical" Puerto Rican family living in Chicago. The snow is on the ground, the holiday spirit is in the air, and on a middle class street, the Rodriguez family is cooking more than just arroz con pollo for Christmas dinner. The entire film is definitely an inside joke for that Latin-American community, particularly the Puerto Rican community. Having a Puerto Rican background myself, I couldn't help but notice that my mother and I were the only ones laughing out loud during the movie, (Keep in mind however we were the only Puerto Ricans in the theatre). The film lets the audience get a look at a Puerto Rican family without having to get to close to the real thing, and is honestly a well put together dramatic-comedy. The film could have definitely been more then what it was, I felt like the filmmakers started to get the juice out and stopped when they had enough to make a Mango Mojito. However the one-and- a- half ounces of rum were enough to keep you giggling. All in all the story line was acceptable, the performances from everyone were enjoyable, and the film was not afraid to tell an insider or two that will make the latinos laugh, while their non-latino company can't help but wonder why John Leguizamo's rambling about the "Fried Pork y Chuletas" sent of his house is in any way funny. An instant Latino classic, and overall worth the price of admission.

    -Jesse Alexander Ramos
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Now what can be so different about a family reunion holiday tape film.

    They are mostly WASP family & there have been many such films, WHAT is so different about this.

    It is an Hispanic (Puerto Rican) family.

    The large cast is made up of the Who's-Who of Hispanic actors. These are usually supporting players in other films. They ARE among others.

    Alfred Molina---- Elizabeth Pena---Luiz Guzman, Freddy Rodriquez---Jay Herrnandez---John Lequizano, Debra Messing. they all are first rate.

    The story line is more of a drama than a comedy, It is quite typical of many non-anglo stories which do not rely on comic hi-jinks or bawdy humor to get the meaning across.

    Thankfully it does not get tragic, just enough hints of what has happened before.

    The director was Alfredo DeVille, Alison Swan and Rick Najera wrote the screenplay.

    This takes place in the Humboldt Park are of Chicago at Christmas time.

    This is the type movie I could see this year as well.

    I was tempted to give this a higher rating even; It is that good.

    The movies does drag a bit & seems longer than it is,

    Ratings:*** (out of 4) 89 points (out of 100) IMDb 8 (out of 10)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Christmas has become so commercialized, no thanks to Santa Claus and the spirit of consumerism having to buy, buy, and buy some more to meet those pesky wish-lists of friends and family. I guess there's this feel good feeling to this holiday because it's just at the edge of the new year, and it's the spirit of sharing good tidings, and to look forward to better things ahead in the new year. But I share similar sentiments with the head of the Puerto Rican Rodriguez household, that it should be none other than a festival to have everyone get together.

    Edy Rodriguez (Alfred Molina) and wife Anna (Elizabeth Pena) look forward to Christmas because it's a time where family members far and wide, and doing their own thing, get to come back home to share in the festive spirit. This year's gathering is all the more special, because son Jesse (Freddy Rodriguez) is permanently home from his tour of duty in Iraq. There's eldest son Mauricio (John Leguizamo) and his wife Sarah (Debra Messing) who are two accomplished corporate folks in New York, and daughter Roxanna (Vanessa Ferlito) who's a Hollywood star in the waiting. Add friends such as Johnny (Luis Guzman) and Ozzy (Jay Hernandez) and you have one happening get together party, right?

    Not quite, as the veneer of what would be a joyous occasion, get marred by everyone bringing their baggage to the table. Anna and Edy contemplate divorce, Jesse gets flak for being the hero, as well as being co-opted to run the family provision shop business. He also continues to nurse an aching heart toward ex flame Marissa (Melonie Diaz) who has now moved on. Mauricio and Sarah's marriage get strained by her refusal to bear children because of an impending promotion which she doesn't want to jeopardize. Roxanna is nowhere near being a star, still stuck at bit parts on television. Whew!

    While billed as a comedy, it's not laugh a minute, even though there were a couple of smart one-liners to tickle your funny bone. Instead, it's quite a thoughtful drama to see how each character navigates through the sea of their own problems, and whether they are able to come out tops. And everyone could identify with one or more of the characters, especially in their attitudes toward family member, being envious of the more successful sibling, of favouritism, of being at loggerheads, of reconciliation, and ultimately, the notion of blood being thicker than water.

    Not all subplots get resolved amicably and reasonably, which roots this film to a tinge of realism rather than opting for a feel good fairy taled styled finale where every loose end gets tied up with a smile. Which makes this film stand out amongst the crowd of feel good Christmas theme movies out there this season. It's quite a compelling drama to sit through despite some story threads being just a little bit bare, but for the powerful ensemble cast pulling everything through as a convincing family unit, you might want to invest some time on this film as well.
  • This film is about how a Puerto Rican family spend their eventful Christmas together.

    I thought "Nothing Like the Holidays" would be a comedy with a festive environment, but it turned out to be the complete opposite. I find the film far too loud and noisy. The filmmakers seem to have a pressing urge to fill every single second with loud music or loud conversation. Sometimes two or more people talk over each other. People keep shouting, cursing and blaming at each other, firing sentences at 10 words a second. The film is like an acoustic war zone. There is no peace or quiet, serenity or tranquility.

    The story is not engaging at all until the last 20 minutes or so, which finally starts to pick up. However, I was already thoroughly bored and annoyed by the movie already. "Nothing Like the Holidays" is definitely nothing like I expected.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    NOTHING LIKE THE HOLIDAYS (2008) **1/2 Alfred Molina, Elizabeth Pena, Freddy Rodriguez, Luis Guzman, Jay Hernandez, John Leguizamo, Debra Messing, Vanessa Ferlito, Melonie Diaz. Better than anticipated yet predictable dramedy about a close-knit Latino family in Chicago who re-unite for Christmas but coming to grips with some familiar problems including infidelity, post-traumatic stress disorder and general ennui but it is rather light-hearted with a game ensemble of fine talent and rings true in the dialogue by the screenplay by Alison Swan, Rick Najera, Robert Teite and Rene M. Rigal. Rodriguez also produced. (Dir: Alfredo De Villa)
  • I appreciated the 'Latino' flair, different for the holidays. The story line is touching and you'll know why at the end. This movie gave me a decent feel of what I might expect if I wanted to some day join a Puerto Rican family for the rest of my 'Gringo' life. I thought being with Puerto Rican lady would be kind of neat, so I watched the movie and now I understand more how it may be for me with that family. Debra Messing plays the 'Gringo', which would be me in this case as I join my future family in all its splendor and mysteries. I must say, I look forward to it...well, a girl can dream anyway!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Alfred Molina leads an all-star cast as his character is allowed to develop as the film goes on.

    We are dealing with a Puerto Rican family getting together for the holidays. The family consists of 3 adult children- a returning Iraq vet, an attorney, and a Hollywood aspiring actress. All 3 have their problems (naturally) but are awaiting the surprise of their young lives when the mother announces that she is divorcing the father after 36 years of marriage due to infidelity on his part.

    The film deals with strong family ties, their problems, their joys and sorrows as they try to cope with this devastating news. Special kudos in the acting department go to Elizabeth Pena and John Leguizamo, as two of the children. The returning vet is also quite good here.

    As we're dealing with an urban setting, naturally we shall attempt to have violence here. The film is great in depicting the aspects of Puerto Rican culture as Molina hides a secret from his family.
  • grr-22 April 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    Where do I get my 2 hours back? Total waste of time. Maybe if you are Puerto Rican you will find it charming, but I wouldn't care even if they were Italian ( which I am ). "Nothing" happens that you can't see coming, except maybe that the villain offers to be killed without a fight. But of course he is not gunned down because that would ruin the light hearted "gag" fun of the movie. Here's lots of spoilers that you might as well read since you will be hoping something different happens. The war hero .....isn't Dad isn't having an affair, but he has cancer which he was able to keep secret from everyone including Mother, until the "white" daughter in-law sees his pain. Mom is unhappy and wants a divorce until she finds out Dad has cancer. The "hollywood star" daughter isn't a star. The "white" daughter in-law chooses career over family until the end of the movie when she suddenly wants to "start trying now" to get pregnant. The bumper rips off the car when trying to pull down the tree. I could go on but you get the picture.
  • Usual things that happen in every Christmas family drama movies but yet stands strong. every cast and crew lived their characters. sibling jokes worked out very well which you people will definitely laugh for. refreshing and relish. hope movies likes this should come out every year from hollywood industry. slowly fading out now a days. i dont no when they will kick start this usual cliches again. holiday movies are immortal
  • This was a refreshing holiday movie because it wasn't all clichéd and sappy. Its not even really all that Christmasy just a slice-of-life drama involving a Puerto Rican American family who happen to all get together at Christmas and then the siblings (amidst their own issues) discover that their parents are divorcing.

    There's a great cast involved here (Alfred Molina is the dad and Elizabeth Peña the Mother) and several fun story lines as we get to know all the adult children.

    I particularly enjoyed "Jesse" (Freddy Rodriguez) who has just returned home from serving overseas and John Leguizamo along with his executive "fishout of water" wife (Debra Messing). As old resentments are let go and bonds reaffirmed the family begins to heal. I think the hilarious reoccurring problems with the tree removal may have helped there. 12.23.13
  • Some reviewers find this film not typical cheery holiday fare, comparing it to what they viewed as a happy Christmas film--It's A Wonderful Life--which, while a Christmas classic, could hardly be thought of as mindlessly cheerful, dealing as it does with the leading character's possible suicide and the likelihood of a divided town becoming a Potterville--where Lionel Barrymore and his bank win all the chips. Sure, the Capra tale has a happy ending, but the grim possibility of the little people losing their beloved homes to the banks seems a little prophetic in light of contemporary political gridlock and the foreclosure scandal. Its A Wonderful Life Is a fairy tale. A nice one, but a fairy tale. Nothing Like The Holidays is not. This little drama, hardly a comedy, is not typically mindless holiday fare, but an enjoyable watch, zeroing in on the problems that accumulate when a son returns at Christmas from Iraq to a family where his parents are considering divorce, a sister unable to make it as an actress, and a brother whose values seem to contrast with the Puerto Rican roots of his family. With Freddy Rodriguez, Alfred Molina, Debra Messing and John Leguziamo all giving strong and likable central performances, and a script that holds the attention from start to finish, this is probably a more accurate portrayal of the way families spend their Christmas today--the good and the bad things that happen when folks get together hoping for the best but knowing that there are ghosts in the closets that may slip out now and then--and while no masterpiece, the 98 minutes seem to be an honest reflection that perhaps will comfort those of us not living a fairy tale.
  • shanom20 December 2008
    It's a little known fact that Puerto Rico has been part of the USA for over a hundred years. (longer than Hawaii has been a state!) A movie about Puertoricans is like a movie about Hawaiians, this is their country too and this movie helps us to understand that! The Movie was pretty good. I saw an attempt to demonstrate that we are all the same no matter what, the story line will look familiar but the situation not quite the usual. The acting was good, and the story is well intended, but I believe it could have been better directed. A good movie, nothing less, nothing more. Worth a watch. In it's category, I'd give it a 7 out of 10.
  • finally a movie is made about my home place in chicago.i was born and rise in humbolt park until left for puerto rico in 2002..the movie was wonderful,only two soft part..the Christmas neighborhood gathering singing thru out the area is long history but it was a touch..the part of a brother's revenge against a gang member is too soft.gangs don't go to soft in humbolt park..yes,puerto rican family are nice in humbolt park back in the old days but as violent took over in the mid 70's puerto rican are not as nicely as this movie show..but it's nice that humbolt park was done in a nice and lovely way and kept the violent ways that it is just like the other ricans movie,i like it like that..that also make the puerto rican a group of people with heart and let's not forget west side story'' nothing like the holiday bring a lot of joys and tears into eyes as i see my homeplace turn into a romance,comedy and heart warm and the traditional puerto rican food in west chicago...i give it a 9 for showing the whole world how great we are in a very hard place to be happy..
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Holiday movies usually put a smile on your face or tears in your eyes. I'm afraid that very little of this movie impressed me. It is worth your try to relate with it. The scattered members of the Rodriquez family make their way home to their parent's house in west Chicago. Not only to celebrate Christmas, but also to welcome the youngest brother home from the war. Like any other large family gathering for a holiday...old arguments resurface, plus new surprises stretch the bonds of the entire family. The trailer led me to believe I would double over laughing...I didn't. But that doesn't mean you won't have your heart warmed and end up with that 'fuzzy' feeling.

    Except for Debra Messing, there is a Latino all-star cast: John Leguizamo, Freddy Rodriguez, Alfred Molina, Luis Guzman, Jay Hernandez and one of my favorites, Elizabeth Pena.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The acting was most certainly the one take away that rescues this film from what might be well deserved obscurity. A well put together ensemble of actors and characters that delivers an all too mediocre story in both a dull narrative and a stereotypical setting.

    It feels like the producers got together with the writers and tried to inject as many stereotypical, yet bland, conflicts into one story as possible, and then for the coup de grace, leave as much as possible completely unresolved.

    Returning "war hero" whose status as hero is a murky as would be expected; struggling actress trying to figure out what she really wants; ex-gang member trying to 'go straight' in spite of continued pressures to return to his 'old ways'; having children vs. striving towards success; infidelity; cancer; divorce; lost love; unrequited love; humorous cousin; close knit PR Latino community ...

    The list of these trite stereotyped characters and situations never seems to end, and in the end, it seems like it has left very little room for any real character or story to develop.

    It isn't a bad film, but it is by and far a long way off from being a good film.
  • Nothing Like the Holidays is an extremely safe Christmas movie. That's not to say that it's not good, because trust me, it is. It's a film likely to win a lot of hearts with its focus on the one thing that everybody can relate to when it comes to the holidays: their family.

    Nothing Like the Holidays could be considered an ethnic film. The cast is primarily made up of unknown Mexican actors (although the familiar faces of John Leguizamo and Luis Guzmán do give the film some credibility). A lot of the jokes may be catered towards a Mexican audience where the family rituals, relationships, and inside jokes may be more fully realized and understood. Regardless, I believe the film to be accessible to any audience willing to explore a Mexican take on the traditional Christmas movie.

    Nothing Like the Holidays starts like any typical Christmas film. All the different members of the family are coming home for the holidays. For the Rodriquez family though, things are a bit different. They've got Jesse coming in from his most recent stint in Iraq as a member of the United States Army, Mauricio, the oldest brother making a name for himself in New York City, and Roxanna the struggling L.A. actress who everyone in the family thinks is a millionaire movie star from her recent stint on a made for television movie.

    On top of the traditional family drama (ex girlfriends in town for the holiday, fights over when to have a baby, and the arguments over who will take over the family business) there's one other thing that seems to be tearing the Rodriquez family apart: the dinner table announcement that Ma and Pa will be getting a divorce...and P.S. it's non-negotiable.

    The reason I really liked this film is because it felt so real. The use of unknown actors helped me believe in the authenticity of what was happening on screen. The Rodriquez family is your typical Mexican family. The holiday is meant to be spent together, and the kids will do anything to keep the family tradition alive. The in-attic conversations on how to get mom and dad back together, the one-on-one advice sessions between a father and a son in the army, and the intense subplot of a family member too scared to tell the family that he's sick all lead to the realness of this film. It may not be the most cheery Christmas movie, but in real life, the holidays are often everything but, so it's nice to see an authentic portrayal of a real family and what they go through during the Christmas season.

    Nothing Like the Holidays isn't a well-known film, but I would recommend it as a solid entry into the overcrowded Christmas movie genre. It won't break ground, but it will win your heart, and what happens on screen is often funny, but always real, a characteristic that shouldn't be overlooked as you look for holiday films to rent this Christmas season.

    Michael Buffa, Editor, Popcorn Jury
  • So I'm watching this and I think, who is this sara who can't act worth a darn? I look it up on IMDB and what do you know , it's the worthless and highly overrated Debra Messing proving once again how bad she is. This would have been a pretty good movie had they simply cast someone who could actually act in the role of sara
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There is a DVD extra where most of the cast reminisce for a few minutes and they say it was one of the coldest winters in Chicago. Since the movie initially was released in November 2008, they must have been talking about the winter of 2007. I believe I was there, but I don't remember. Two of my daughters live there, and it was nice seeing a family drama filmed in Chicago.

    It is Christmas holidays and various family members from New York and Hollywood travel to Chicago to have Christmas with mom and dad who have been married for 36 years. Also coming home is the youngest son, a soldier, who was wounded in Iraq. There is a large banner "Welcome Home Jesse" over the family porch.

    But soon we see what might be described as family squabbles. Mom is disappointed that she has no grandchildren yet. Dad wants son to work with him and take over the family business, a popular store that sells food and alcoholic beverages. The youngest daughter is called a star by everyone but she has only gotten bit parts in Hollywood. Her old friend, a potential boyfriend, has a grudge against a former felon who had killed his brother and ponders how he can get just revenge.

    The movie has a good mix of drama and comedy, which mirrors real life when you get a group of adult children together as a family. Of course the best thing the movie has going for it are many of the best actors in the business and they make it feel real. You have to play loose with the real ages of the actors, the mom and dad are not much older than some of the "children." But it works.

    Good movie. Makes you care for the characters, and it makes you think.