by Mary Brocato
Home for the Holidays (PG-13) is the perfect Thanksgiving movie that every family deserves to see.
It’s playing on Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Many Community Center. It’s free, of course, a gift from Mayor Ken Freeman and the Many City Council.
Thanksgiving usually gets the short end of the stick when it comes to holiday movies. Sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas — both of which overflow with themed cinematic treats — America’s premier celebration of gluttony (and/or gratitude) rarely pops up on the big screen. But Home for the Holidays fills in the gap and provides a Thanksgiving movie that the whole family can enjoy.
Home for the Holidays is a warm, feel-good comedy about how warm and messy family can be. It doesn’t really tell a story so much as chronicle a sequence of events, but it captures something about how going back home to squabble with relatives and eat lots of food can add a nostalgic glow to the chill of late November. Or, as Claudia, played by Holly Hunter, puts it when talking with her sister, Joanne, “We don’t have to like each other, Jo. We’re family.”
The plot involves Claudia flying home to Baltimore after being fired from her Chicago art restoration job, all the while fretting about how her teenage daughter spend an unsupervised Thanksgiving sleeping with her boyfriend. Her daughter refuses to go home with her mother and announces this as her intention while dropping off her mom at the airport.
Along the way, Claudia and her family navigate a fleet of very hot-button issues, particularly involving Claudia’s younger brother, Tommy, played by Robert Downey Jr., at his nerviest, whom Joanne outs as gay to the rest of the family when she gets angry at him. But the film’s of-its-era concerns are also reflected in Claudia’s mother’s frustration that Claudia is still a single mom, who won’t just settle down with a nice furnace repairman. Even the one-scene characters in this movie are played by somebody you’ll recognize).
Fortunately, Tommy has traveled home with a friend, Leo, and there are sparks between Claudia and Leo that might turn into something more, if the two had more time to spend together than the 24 hours of Thanksgiving Day.
Home for the Holidays may not be an all-time classic, but like Thanksgiving itself, there’s comfort to be had in settling around its very big table. When the film closes with footage of Claudia watching her family disperse on a snowy, post-Thanksgiving morning, it has earned the melancholy the characters feel in that moment.
Movies in Many is sponsored by Mayor Ken Freeman, the Many Town Council and the Many Cultural District Advisory Committee.
Categories: Community News