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With: Holly Hunter, Robert Downey, Jr.; Anne Bancroft, Dylan McDermott, Geraldine Chaplin, Steve Guttenberg, Claire Danes, Cynthia Stevenson, Charles Durning
Written by: W.D. Richter
Directed by: Jodie Foster
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 103
Date: 11/03/1995

Home for the Holidays (1995)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Thanksgiving Quirky

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Two-time Oscar winner for Best Actress Jodie Foster embarked upon her directorial career at age 28 with Little Man Tate. Her follow-up, Home for the Holidays is a quasi-cult classic that has gained a respectable audience on home video. Written by the great W.D. Richter, it's a wonderful, big-hearted, messy Thanksgiving story with poor Holly Hunter suffering the worst holiday of her life.

She plays art restorer Claudia Larson who loses her job -- and comes down with a cold -- just before flying home for Thanksgiving. (Worse, she loses her stylish coat and must borrow a hideous, out-of-date, lumpy one.) Her family is typically insane, if not totally dysfunctional. Some members are uptight, and some are more carefree. An aged aunt (Geraldine Chaplin) is a little loopy, and dad (Charles Durning) is more complicated than he seems. In one beautiful scene, Claudia catches him watching old home movies, filled with emotions (joy, regret, etc.). Though the great cast is all exceptional, Robert Downey Jr.especially shines as Hunter's uninhibited brother.

MGM has released both of Foster's films on DVD. What really makes them special is Foster's outstanding commentary tracks. She really opens up and records a personal diary of her experiences as a director, talking about her lack of experience on Little Man Tate and her views on family relations on Home for the Holidays. The best DVD commentaries I've heard so far have all been funny, but this is the first time I've been moved by a track's honesty. It helps that Foster is also a gifted actress and really knows how to sell herself, but this is the real thing. I highly recommend both discs.

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