Nothing Like the Holidays
Yet another holiday film about a gently dysfunctional family whose tree branches are stocked solely with well-worn stereotypes (the “twist”: They’re Puerto Rican!). They’re all here, welcomed in like friends of the family you can’t tolerate anymore: the frazzled ethnic mother demanding grandchildren, the returning veteran who can’t adjust, the assimilated businessman son, the ex-gangbanger tempted toward revenge, the kindly patriarch with the Big Secret and, my personal favorite, the token tight-ass white bitch (played here by Debra Messing). I won’t spoil the rest of the story, since you’ll probably figure it all out after the first 10 minutes. Despite a solid foundation of good intentions, Nothing Like the Holidays can’t support a top-heavy mass of hoary clichés, formulaic acting (even by great vets like Alfred Molina and Elizabeth Peña) and overall predictability.