It’s Christmastime and the far-flung members of the Rodriguez family are converging at their parents’ home in Chicago to celebrate the season and rejoice in their youngest brother’s safe return from combat overseas.
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Nothing Like the Holidays (G) * * *
By ROBERT WALDMAN
Trailers can be hit or miss affairs when it comes to gauging a filmÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s success or chances at the box office. Despite a rather bland snippet of whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s to come Nothing Like the Holidays turns out to be a nice theatrical surprise from Alliance Films, now open for debate at Tinselown, Empire Studio 12, Colossus, Silver City Theatres across B.C. and the Fifth Avenue Cinemas. Ahead of the rush for Christmas themed movies director Alfredo De Villa wisely navigates us through the rather tumultuous connections and divides of the Rodriguez family.
ChicagoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cold wintry weather canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help but mute the festivities for this clan when they gather for the Christmas season. When the kids, now fully grown, return for the wintry season to rekindle their roots just a whole lot of issues boil to the surface. Edy and Anna Rodriguez head the religious-minded Puerto Rican family and they, along with their children, unleash a whole onslaught of concerns when they gather for that Yuletide treat.
During the holidays one hopes for peace on earth but the Rodriguez family in no short order find themselves in battles galore as husbands and wives along with old friends find themselves in battle with pitched forks as the idea of a quiet evening explodes into chaos.
Man of the hour Edy tries to reel in the troops but heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no match for his wife Anna who seems to be doing things on her own agenda. Glad to have one of their sons back from Iraq this soldier winds up stateside in the battle of his life for the hearts of those closest to him. Similar concerns confront a far flung daughter from the west coast trying to be a success in Hollywood. And if that isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t enough fuel to fire the passions there are the hot shot couple headed by Mauricio and white wife in tow having to contend with a lack of children, a no no in this Latin Quarter.
Sparky dialogue and extremely well defined characters make Nothing Like the Holidays an absolute treat. Here the action revolves around this Puerto Rican family but the difficulties they face can confront anyone from any ethnic background. Lead actors Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2) and Elizabeth Pena (Tortilla Soup) are great as the anchor parents with John Lequizamo (Moulin Rouge) perhaps stealing the show as a hot shot lawyer wedded to a non-Latino, nicely raised by Debra Messing (The Wedding Date). Humour comes naturally for Luis Guzman (Runaway Jury) who gets off some great shots as nephew Johnny, a wise guy in the extreme.
Being able to effectively capture the essence of an ethnic family is no easy feat and to make such feelings transferable to the general populace is not easy. Warmth and heartache collide in Nothing Like the Holidays, a classy film that takes a look at turmoil in relationships and examines some pretty tough subjects tactfully and with great grace.
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