While not quite as entertaining as her deft behind-the-lens debut, Little Man Tate (1991), this comedy drama from actress-turned-director Jodie Foster is an emotionally satisfying and observant rumination on how family ties often tighten into a noose during the holidays. Cast standouts are lead Holly Hunter as the single mother of a distant teenager who's not quite sure she isn't still a teen herself, and Robert Downey Jr. as her gay brother, the closeted family black sheep. While some of the plot developments are too stridently over the top and sacrifice character development at the altar of wacky "business," the film is a very real portrait of the dread and disappointment that is the flip side of the delight and affection inherent in any obligatory family reunion. While most critics and audiences found that this painfully funny comedy emphasized the pain over the comedy, Home for the Holidays debunks the artificial cheer served up by most motion pictures and deserves to become a perennial holiday favorite for the emotionally and intellectually evolved.
by Karl Williams review