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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Home For the Holidays
Home For the Holidays
MGM // PG-13 // September 4, 2001
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted September 5, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Count me as one of the few people who seem to be indifferent to Jodie Foster's work. I've appreciated some of her performances, but none of them really have caught on with me that much. I've found her directorial efforts similarly unremarkable, especially this ordinary 1995 family comedy/drama. In fact, the one thing that has really earned her a special place in my cinematic universe is that she was largely responsible for bringing the powerful and outstanding 1995 French drama "La Haine" over to the US shores.

"Home For The Holidays" has Foster on the other side of the camera, focusing in one the revelations and jokes that spring forth from a particular Thanksgiving family gathering. The film starts off with Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) finding herself in the midst of a very, very bad day. After a bad day at work, her daughter announces in the car ride to the airport that she's going to stay home and lose her virginity. The plane ride doesn't go much better, as the woman next to her won't stop talking. And, of course, this is all before she's gotten to the house.

There's mother, Adele (Anne Bancroft), and father, Henry (Charles Durning), who are getting things prepared for everyone to arrive. Also, there's brother Tommy (Robert Downing Jr.), who arrives with a friend (Dylan McDermott) along for the festivities. There's Aunt Glady, who makes necklaces made out of Fruit Loops (she's a bit loopy, herself), as well as Claudia's baby sister, Joanne (Cynthia Stevenson), who attempts to keep things under control, but fails miserably.

Foster has certainly rounded up a terrific cast, but the material leaves them stranded. Koltai's enjoyable handheld work occasionally really gets us into the middle of the arguements and squabbles, but none of the dialogue or characters really grab our attention or give us a reason to care. I liked Hunter's performance as the film opens, but once the film starts to throw several other characters into the mix, she gets shuttled to the background. Downey, Jr. also gets a few good jokes in. Otherwise, the situations that the film revolves around are really nothing too new. At one moment in the movie, a title card with "The Point" comes up. I only wished the movie had gotten to "The Point" sooner.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Home For the Holidays" is presented by MGM in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Although my experience with even some recent MGM catalog titles has been less than pleasant, the studio has offered "Home" a an enjoyable, but not perfect presentation. Lajos Koltai's wonderful cinematography keeps the conversation-heavy picture visually interesting, and it's done justice here. Sharpness and detail are fine, but not remarkable. Most of the interior scenes appeared well-defined and crisp, but now and then, scenes looked a tiny bit on the dark, undefined side.

Happily, I had few other concerns about the picture quality. A few minor speckles appeared on the print used infrequently. Otherwise, I noticed nothing in the way of additional print problems such as marks, scratches or otherwise. A scene or two appeared to have a tiny bit of grain, but this was hardly noticable. Pixelation and edge enhancement were, pleasantly, nowhere to be found during the film.

Colors looked rich and natural; not exceptionally bright or well-saturated, but still cleanly presented and pleasant. Flesh tones also appeared accurate and natural, as well. Not without a few minor blemishes, but otherwise nice work from MGM.

SOUND: "Home For the Holidays" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, but essentially, the 5.1 platform is only necessary for the film's opening. The music during the opening moments uses the surrounds quite nicely, but after that, the film essentially turns mono. Little in the way of ambient detail is apparent and the film settles in, content to be dialogue-driven. Audio quality seemed fine, but not too remarkable - dialogue came through clearly and cleanly.

MENUS:: Basic, non-animated menus that essentially use film-themed images and cover art.

EXTRAS::

Commentary: This is a commentary from director Jodie Foster, who did not participate in MGM's new "Silence of the Lambs" special edition, but the studio was able to reel her in to discuss both this picture as well as Foster's "Little Man Tate", which is also releasing this week. The director provides a warm and informative discussion of the making of the picture, important to her because it was the begining of Foster's Egg Productions company. The director talks about production issues, casting choices and working with actors and other choices that had to be made during filming. Foster is friendly and generally talkative. There are some gaps of silence during the track, but overall, I found it very enjoyable.

also: The only other extra is a trailer.

Final Thoughts: I remember finding "Home For the Holidays" mildly enjoyable in previous viewings, but watching it again a few years later, it hasn't held up quite as well as I remember it. MGM's DVD is actually quite nice, though. Audio/video quality is not impressive, but above average. The commentary is a nice supplement and the price is right for fans of the film.

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