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Nothing Like the Holidays

A 2009 movie directed by Alfredo De Villa.

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  • May 10, 2010
  • by
This review was written before my mother passed.


When watching this movie I noticed something crazy going on and it hit home with me a little, well more so than that. This movie more or less is actually happing to me right now, so that may affect how much I like or dislike this film. This may be a spoiler so you may want to turn away now if you don't want to know. But as of now during Christmas my family has come together up at my mom's in Maryland. Nextly and to add to the time period comparison is that this film about a Latin family is true with me as well since my brother, sister, and girl all are at least half Latin of some kind. And lastly much like the father in this film my mother has cancer; she will beat it no doubt as she has before [twice]. So I can relate with this film in many ways and thusly appreciate it a lot more.

The Rodriguez family is finally all going to be home together as all members from direct to family friends will all be coming back to Chicago. Of course some are still there like the parents and family friends, cousins and such. But one son and wife are coming away from their big jobs, the daughter is coming home from Hollywood, and another son is coming back from serving time in the military over in the war. Of course the parents could not be happier and the family business is going good but a lot of tension and jealousy is bubbling underneath the surface. For the parents the husband is getting mysterious phone calls that are putting a strain on the relationship, potentially leading to a divorce. The married son is having marital problems of his own since his career driven wife does not want kids like he does, and the famous movie star daughter is not as famous as she says. In fact she is still waiting on a call from her agent that could lead to her biggest role yet. And then there is the war hero son that is not so proud of what happened over seas that lead to his return home and the pressure put on him by his father to take over the family business is crushing him. Add in a bitter ex girlfriend who has moved on with someone else and you have the makings of the typical family Christmas.

We open with nothing more than good times as war hero son Jesse Rodriguez [Freddy Rodriguez] is being picked up by best friend Johnny [Luis Gusman] and Ozzy [Jay Hernandez]. Good times are had after as all of the family makes their way to the parent's house [Alfred Molina & Elizabeth Pena], son Mauricio [John Leguizamo] and his wife Sarah [Debra Messing] arrive as well. Their acting sister Roxanna [Vanessa Ferlito] shows as well of course and the family is all together once more for the first time in forever apparently. Still the good times role even after Jesse's ex and her new man show up, as the family gathers for a huge meal the fun kicks in. It is at this point that all is revealed and the family starts to fight like only a family can. We all know how that works out since your family can throw all kinds of personal hurtful stuff out there.

Of course the film not only deals with the family's problems but with the friends as well and Johnny wants to kill the man that killed his brother and is now free on the streets. That is explored as far as it could be and results in a good moment. Of course as mentioned before the father has cancer and is battling that through the holidays. This is the par that hits home with me the most as it is happening right now with my mama, I love my mama. This story arc got especially emotional for not only me, my brother, and sister but mostly for my grandparents [her parents]. My grandmother in particular has she cannot stand what is happing to her baby. But much like the father in this my mother is strong and will beat this without a doubt. She will be the three time defending champ against cancer after battling and beating brain cancer since that tumor was supposed to kill her. Then there was a separate non related cancer in her uterus, and now another different non related cancer that attacked many different parts of her.

Aside from my personal stuff going on there is also wonderful performances and such from all. Alfred Molina is brilliant as the father in this film giving a wonderful performance, his battle with cancer hits home. His wife played by Elizabeth Pena is very strong and should be noted that she steals scenes easily. Freddy Rodriguez is great as the son who returns home after being injured in the war, he also is scared in more ways than one. Luis Gusman and Jay Hernandez are great as well as the two friends that are there to pick him up, one is really funny and the other is a little more deep. Vanessa Ferlito is wonderful as always as the sister aspiring for an acting career. John Leguizamo and Debra Messing are absolutely perfect as a married couple who are having problems in deciding if they want a baby, add in Debra is white in an all Latin family and you have real fun then. Alexander Bautista, Melonie Diaz, Ramses Jimenez, and Manny Sosa all turn in great performances as well. Turns out to be very wonderfully acted, of course it is all in how much you relate.

To be honest I may have enjoyed this more so than the average viewer but I would still recommend this film. Check it out as a rental at least because it is a good movie regardless. Director Alfredo De Villa and writers Alison Swan, Rick Najera, Robert Teitel, and Rene M. Rigal all did a good job with this film. The film is funny at times and a little more dramatic at others, there is something for everybody in this. Does this film have problems, to be honest it probably does but I liked it. Maybe the situation affected my judgment but isn't that the point of a review.

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May 28, 2010
Sorry to hear about your mother. My father had cancer too, lung cancer because he was a very heavy smoker all his life. They removed half a lung and pronounced him cured of that cancer after 10 years, but then it started coming back all over the place. Sometimes I think surgery just gives it a chance ti relocate and then it bides its time. Nice review though, and I agree that how we react to a film is often colored by what's going on in our lives at that moment.
May 10, 2010
I got this a part of amazon vine. Not bad, could've been better but it was good for what it was. Nice tribute reviews to your mother, Alex!
May 10, 2010
Yeah man I agree but it was very like what went on around here, thanks man.
More Nothing Like the Holidays reviews
review by . December 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Trying Not To Be Your Usual American Holiday Movie....
Movies about the Christmas Holiday tone are a dime-a-dozen. Truthfully, most movies have the same plot clichés, themes and Holiday cheers. Director Alfredo De Villa's "Nothing Like the Holidays" is nothing different; family issues, disappointments and hope abound in this dramedy. It does have a very strong Puerto Rican theme to it; with full emphasis on Puerto Rican which I enjoyed, it was something different. The film is directed by Alfredo De Villa who was responsible for …
review by . December 30, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****    If one can get past the countless remakes, modernized adaptations, and clich├ęd love stories that tend to identify with most Christmas fare in the service of film; a film such as "Nothing Like the Holidays" might just come off as, oh I don't know, refreshing. It's a good old fashion family comedy; taking place during the holidays and dealing with a very big family. And while this is, in theory, an ordinary family - how many recent Christmas films are composed …
review by . December 12, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
This isn't a feel-good holiday movie. In fact, you kind of feel bad for this family - and the movie. It's a really odd and uncomfortable assortment of hoodlums, war vet, high-powered hedge-fund managers, and bickering parents. At points, the movie seems to gel and convey a poignant story - particular Debra Messing and her father-in-law. But at other times, it seems as if "Nothing like the Holidays" is torn between several themes and was emotionally confusing. At the end of the day, the movie just …
review by . November 19, 2009
Heartwarming holiday tail about Christmas with the Rodriguez family. The entire clan has gathered in Chicago to spend the holidays at the family homestead; one son is returning from a tour of duty in Iraq; the other "successful" son is trying to balance his wife's career aspirations with his desire for a child and his mother's yearning for a grandchild, while the Rodriguez daughter returns home from Hollywood with admissions that her life is not as successful and glamourous as otherwise thought...all …
review by . November 17, 2009
I'm a holiday movie addict. I love anything set to Christmas time. Well almost anything.    What I don't care for are movies that rely on time-tested story material with only minor changes based on family ethnicity and general dynamics.    I'm a realist; many American holiday tales look the same from family to family regardless of cultural heritage. Having been raised in several ethnically diverse households, the biggest differences lie in what we eat, when …
review by . November 10, 2009
I think that Christmas movies deserve to be regarded with a separate set of criteria than that applied to the rest of cinema. If the movie revolves around the Christmas holiday, we're likely to forgive the extra cliche' or manipulative tear-jerking moment that might just cost a non-holiday ensemble comedy a star or two. So with that said, Nothing Like the Holidays might just be worth adding to your collection of DVDs. How better to amuse the out-of-town family guests (or their adolescent kids) during …
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About this movie


Alfred De Villa (WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, YELLOW) directs this tale of a Puerto Rican family gathering at their family home in Chicago's Humboldt Park for the holidays. On the surface, the Rodriguez family has much to be thankful for this Christmas. Eldest son Mauricio (John Leguizamo) is a lawyer on the verge of making partner and his wife is a Wall Street dynamo (Debra Messing), daughter Roxanna (Vanessa Ferlito) is a movie star, and youngest son Jesse (Freddy Rodriguez) has just returned home from a tour in Iraq. For the first time in years, the three siblings will all be home for the holidays, and their parents, Anna (Elizabeth Peqa) and Eduardo (Alfred Molina), are elated. Except that Mauricio's wife isn't Puerto Rican, and despite her mother-in-law's constant pleas, she's in no rush to have a baby. Meanwhile, Roxanna is more of a struggling actress then a star, and Jesse is having a hard time adjusting to regular life and facing Marissa (Melonie Diaz), the "one that got away" when he enlisted.IfNothing Like the Holidaysappears to have little in common with Frank Capra's small-town perennial It's a Wonderful Life, Alfredo De Villa's urban dramedy also mixes the bitter with the sweet. The fireworks begin when Eduardo and Anna Rodriguez (Alfred Molina and Elizabeth Peña) welcome their Puerto Rican brood to celebrate Christmas in Chicago: Iraq War veteran Jesse (Illinois native Freddy Rodríguez), struggling actress Roxanna ...
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DVD Release Date: October 27, 2009
Runtime: 98 minutes
Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment

First to Review

"Christmas Comedy"
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