Tags: Alfred Molina, Alfredo De Villa, Anchor Bay, Bonus View, Debra Messing, Digital Copy, Elizabeth Pena, Freddy Rodríguez, Jay Hernandez, John Leguizamo, Luis Guzman, Melonie Diaz, Overture Films, Starz, Venessa Ferlito
has an average rating of 6.2 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 & PCM 5.1
with Bonus View, Digital Copy & more
– 98 minutes
– Anchor Bay / Starz
This uses 26.5GB for the movie out of 32.1GB total.
Overall Verdict – A Holiday Recommendation
The Movie Itself was directed by Alfredo De Villa, with the screenplay credits of Alison Swan and Rick Najera, and the story credits of Robert Teitel and Rene M. Rigal.
Naturally as the title suggest, the story takes place around the time of Christmas, centering on a the gathering of the Rodriguez family. The family is Puerto Rican, and resides in a part of Chicago known as Humboldt Park. The mother, Anna (Elizabeth Peña), and father, Edy (Alfred Molina), still live in the area, however, their grown children are coming in for the holidays from various destinations. We are first shown the anticipation of Jesse‘s (Freddy Rodríguez) arrival, the son who has spent quite some time in the military fighting in Iraq. Also there is Mauricio (John Leguizamo), an investor visiting from New York with his wife, Sarah (Debra Messing). Finally, the family’s only daughter, Roxanna (Vanessa Ferlito), is visiting from Los Angeles, where she is striving to become a successful actress.
With the arrival of each family member, there is not necessarily a stereotypical Hallmark movie greeting, as Mauricio handles his mother’s bilingual insults to Sarah, as she also hassles the couple about having children, pressing how much she wants grandchildren. Also, as Roxanna arrives at her family’s home, everyone makes comments about “the big star” arriving, and asking “where’s the limo?”, in both mannerisms of perhaps having this large assumption that she actually is a successful actress who is not struggling, and also perhaps in an affectionate way of stroking their daughter’s dreams to reassure her.
Jesse‘s return home on the other hand is a little deeper with emotions flowing from multiple directions. Obviously, his family is excited to see him, though their questions about fighting in Iraq draw out a slight bit of awkwardness from him as they seek to hear stories about the things he has seen; Jesse does not exactly want to go down that path. Also, when first arriving back in town, he takes off with his close friends Johnny (Luis Guzmán) and Ozzy (Jay Hernandez) to simply hang-out and catch-up with his pals. Upon driving out for a bit, the guys cross paths with a certain enemy, Alexis (Manny Perez), a guy that particularly Ozzy holds a grudge against for the past. As if there were not enough drama showing its face with Jesse‘s visit, while mingling with his family and having a good time in their home, he answers a knock at the door, only to be face to face with his ex-girlfriend, Marissa (Melonie Diaz). This does present a little more awkwardness, as she introduces Jesse to her son, Hector (Alexander Bautista), and her current boyfriend, Fernando (Ramses Jimenez).
With all of the siblings gathered int he home, they begin to notice something that their mother has been gaining suspicion to for a while; their father frequently receives phone calls to which he gets “Dick Cheney” about, stepping aside or into another room to privately talk to the caller. This will prove to make for additional holiday drama at the Rodriguez home, though even the father makes it a point to attempt to enjoy his time with his children.
In closing, it’s very safe for me to say that “Nothing Like The Holidays” is one of the better ethnic holiday films, that much is for certain. In fact, it’s actually in my top 20 favorite holiday films now, if that says anything. I think folks, regardless of them being Hispanic or not will find the film enjoyable, especially around the holidays. For instance, I’m Caucasian and I found the film to be really good. This, unlike some of the other ethnic holiday films, really seemed to “click” (to a degree) with me really well and I think it has and will continue to on home video — despite it currently being down in popularity on IMDb. Many of the themes and situations in the story see no color, as there are many pieces of the film you will surely find yourself relating to. The film also has a nice balance between offering wit and moderately comical situations, as well as serious elements of drama. Overall, this is definitely a holiday film worth catching, receiving a “3.5 Star Rating“.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The majority of this release’s video is presented with a very warm and bronze-like filter, which really does add that state of mind family warmth to the holiday setting of the film. The look of the picture within the use of this warm palette gives a glow to the fleshtones of the ethnic cast, as well as subdues and deepens bold hues that would otherwise be vibrant. Occasionally, the intensity of this warm look does shift to a more neutral tone, such as a few exterior scenes taking place at night, which does represent the cold Chicago air well. The black level here is very inky, as it seems we do see more of it within the use of the very warm palette, and it also appears that sharpness has been heightened, giving a rather dark and strong look to the picture quality in particularly inky scenes, such as the interiors of the family’s home.
Definition tends to vary in each portion of the film. Often, when the warm filter is at its peak blaring its golden hues on-screen, the detail of the actors’ faces seems to be lost at these points, and the even the beard stubble of the male cast is not quite defined. On the other hand, there is typically a nice amount of detail visible in strands of hair, the textures of wardrobe and props, and more so in close-ups, such as the rugged facial features of Alfred Molina, and Freddy Rodriguez. Overall, the clarity and definition is more than decent, and earns the video quality for this release a deserved “4 Star Rating“.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in both Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround & Uncompressed 5.1 Linear PCM. Considering this is a Hispanic film, I find it also to point out that a Spanish audio track is included, but that it’s sadly only in Dolby Digital Mono. Regardless, the audio presentation here is very solid. The film is made up primarily with dialogue more-so than tradition holiday films even though Paul Oakenfold actually composed the original music included in the film. When the music is present, it gets a nice mix throughout the 5.1 soundscape, with decent rear channel presence and LFE (bass) presence as well. There is occasional assigned channel presence, and specific front or rear channel use unique to whatever on-screen actions are occurring, such as the intercom at the airport conveying the speaker’s voice from the rear channels. The dialogue and majority of the film’s sound is delivered primarily through the front center channel as well as left and right channel speakers. This mix is in all honesty, “front heavy” but it still manages to get the job done here, with the bright sound of brass from the score, appropriate subtle foley, and clarity within the sometimes witty dialogue, overall earning itself a “4 Star Rating“.
Bonus Materials on this release are presented in 1080i, and High Definition, using Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.
- Bonus View is used on the “Picture-In-Picture Insider Exclusive with the Cast” video commentary track. This requires the user to be on a “Profile 1.1” capable Blu-ray Disc Player to access the PIP content. It’s really awesome to see this included and a really awesome video commentary as well. Fans will be pleased this is included when they want to watch it again for the second or third time.
- Digital Copy of the film is included on the 2nd disc on a DVD-ROM. This is compatible with both iTunes and Windows Media portable devices, as well as both Mac and PC computers.
- “Audio Commentary With Actor/Producer Freddy Rodriguez, Director Alfredo De Villa, and Producer Robert Teitel“
- “Nothing Like a Family: Cast Reunion” (1080i, 13 minutes)
- “Bloopers” (15 minutes)
- “Theatrical Trailer” (2 minutes)
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.