When movies are made about young siblings and Christmas it usually consists of the magical experience of the holidays, including Santa and the power that comes with believing in something with all your heart. However, when movies are made about adult siblings, they are more about the personal affairs of the siblings and the inner workings of the family relationships, including any unresolved rivalry. Nothing Like the Holidays fits the latter description and the good news is that its ethnic depiction provides an entertaining insight which allows it to stand out from other movies of its kind.
The Rodriguez’s are a Latino family living in Chicago and maintaining their Puerto Rican roots. Alfred Molina and Elizabeth Peña play parents Edy and Anna who welcomes their children Jesse, Mauricio and Roxanna home for the holidays. Although they are happy to have the whole family together again, their martial problems soon put a bit of damper on the family reunion. However, as their children try to absorb their parents troubling relationship, they are also addressing their own personal issues.
Mauricio, played by John Leguizamo, is a successful businessman married to an even more successful wife (Debra Messing).
Jesse (Freddy Rodríguez) is just coming home from Iraq and is haunted by his experience and uncertain about his future.
Roxanna (Vanessa Ferlito) is considered around the old neighborhood as a successful actress but her career is at a crossroad and she is unable to share her doubts with her family.
There is comedic relief especially from Johnny (Luis Guzmán), a close relative who seems to be around more than each of the siblings. However, it’s the cultural depiction of the Puerto Rican American family that gives this story its charm. The “splanglish”, a combination of English and Spanish (at times subtitles are used), gives it an authentic feel but so does the festive Puerto Rican style of Christmas caroling.
Nothing Like the Holidays is a predictable movie about family relationships, which includes love and understanding as well as sibling rivalry and misunderstandings. While the storyline does not stand out, the movie taken in its entirety is entertaining. It’s rated PG-13 for dialog referencing sex and drugs.