Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April Showers, Home For the Holidays

april showers, evenings @ 11

One of the greatest disconnects I've ever had between consensus response to a movie and my own reaction was in 1995 when Jodie Foster's second film, Home for the Holiday debuted. It was mostly ignored by the public and the critics were out for blood. Maybe Jodie Foster had just been too successful and too lauded and it was time for the pendulum to swing back? Perhaps the undercurrent was along the lines of 'Does she have to be good at making movies in addition to acting in them?'

Even Robert Downey Jr playing Tommy got bad reviews for his performance. He was gay brother to Holly Hunter's Claudia. Though his performance is pretty out there, that needling rapid fire joking -- he's consistently pushing things too far -- is exactly in line with the movie's own sense of humor. Bonus points: the sibling chemistry between Claudia and Tommy is pretty damn credible.

If you're not familiar with the movie I urge you to rent it. You protest: But it's one of thousands of quirky dysfunctional family holiday comedies! I counter: it arrived before that ultra specific genre was wildly over saturated and it's actually very funny.

Holly's shower scene is fairly typical of the movies fast, funny and familial nature. Anne Bancroft, playing Adele the mother, is talking at Claudia but not really with her. Claudia is talking at Adele but not listening. They're on different pages and both of them don't shut up. The older woman exits the scene leaving her daughter showering in an open bathroom.
Mom, close the door behind you okay?

No? okay, no problem, I usually shower in public.
I have no pride.
I have no rights.
I'm only four years old.
I don't need to tell you that Holly Hunter is one of the funniest people in the movies and she was still in her incredible prime (roughly 1987-1998). She makes every pause and emphasis count in a line reading. So many laughs to be had in four sentences. After Claudia is done complaining about the unplanned exhibitionism, she gets down to business. She's vigorously shampooing, suds flying, until she freezes in place with a gasp. Her mischievous brother is lumbering towards the shower curtain like some comic monster.
I swear to god, Tommy, I'm naked in here and I am too old...

*FLASH*

Holly's blind recoil from the flash is the split second punchline and Foster immediately cuts to the next scene, no time to waste... more rapid fire joking to follow.
*

21 comments:

Fabrizzio said...

I LOOOOVE Holly Hunter and I really want to see this now.

Wayne B. said...

I caught the last 20 minutes of this or so on TV recently and I was struck by that scene between Holly and Cynthia Stevenson. It seemed so honest this relationship between sisters who are family but not friends. When Cynthia's character tells her about "if...phone number...lose" (trying not to give too much away, should be seen really) just the look on Holly's face... *sigh* that woman is genius. I need to see the rest of it.

Sally Belle said...

Yes! This is a family holiday staple in my house. My kids can quote it.

Cluster Funk said...

I saw it in the theatre (twice) and didn't reget it one bit. That montage at the end of all the memories/quiet moments NOT caputred on film but relived through exposition over the course of the film is just divine!

Anonymous said...

i just love the scenes where tommy and claudia were ganging up on joanne. LOL

nat: in line with april showers the, you should also mention that the dad brought out the hose to break a fight between the boys in one scene

Ben said...

I absolutely love this movie. It was on HBO a bunch this summer and every time it was on I found myself drawn to it. It's one of those movies that's flawed, but feels better for having the flaws.

Alex F said...

I Netflixed this last Thanksgiving for my friends and I to watch and it ended up sitting on my kitchen table for three weeks unopened before I decided to send it back without having watched it. Will have to give it another chance on your recommendation.

Alex F said...

Just wondering, Nathaniel, do you recall why the critical consensus was negative? I mean was there one major sticking point?

BeRightBack said...

I've always loved this film, too.

Alex in Movieland said...

I'd rather have the Will & Grace episode called Homo for the Holidays.

Dave said...

Your love for this, and obviously the cast, has always made me really want to see it, but apparently we're not interested in your American holidays, because it's not on DVD and I've never seen it in any tv schedule.

Francis S. said...

Yes, it's required holiday viewing for me as well: Home for the Holidays on thanksgiving and Groundhog Day on, um, groundhog day.

Rob said...

I remember seeing this movie in theaters with my parents (at a paid 'Sneak Preview,' no less), and loving it, even though I only understood about half the jokes.

Truly a classic... but was critical reaction REALLY that bad? I remember my local pape (Newsday) gave it 3 and a half stars out of a 4...

NATHANIEL R said...

i don't know Rob. Maybe I'm just remembering it that way.

Jeni said...

Definitely a classic in our family. One of my biggest disappointments last year was the fact that no one was showing this moving on Thanksgiving and my sister's DVR deleted it. Of course we fixed that by all giving it to each other for Christmas.

Jer said...

One of my favorite comedic scenes is between Geraldine Page and Robert Downey, Jr. when they get Aunt Gladys in the car and she farts.

"How fast can you drive, Tommy?"

"Like the wind!"

I have seen this movie over 10 times and that still makes me bust into "lizzing".

(Anyone else in love with 30 Rock these days??)

elvis said...

Evan Rachel Wood said in an interview that she's starring in Jodie Foster's next effort as a director : Flora Plum

And no, it's not a joke ! I think she talked about it in GQ

Wayne B. said...

elvis - that would be great but isn't she like the twelth actress who's signed on to the role?

robbie said...

A truly great film.

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