The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Anchor Bay/Overture - 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 98 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English uncompressed 5.1 PCM, Spanish Mono
Subtitles: English SDH
Starring: Alfred Molina, Freddy Rodriguez, Debra Messing, John Leguizamo, Luis Guzman, Elizabeth Pena, Jay Hernandez
Directed by: Alfredo DeVilla
Music by: Paul Oakenfold
Written by: Alison Swan & Rick Najera
Region Code: 1
Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 27, 2009
"They're just a typical American family. Minus the typical"
It's Christmastime in Chicago, and the far-flung members of the Rodriguez family are converging at their parents' house to celebrate the season. During the course of this eventful week, traditions will be celebrated, secrets revealed, old resentments forgotten, familial bonds re-affirmed and the healing power of laughter will work its magic.
There are a plethora of holiday family films, some better than others, but most strive to present a sort of fly on the wall perspective regarding typical familial issues that surface when everyone gets together to celebrate. Here, the Rodriguez family, sons Mauricio (Jesse (Leguizamo), and Jesse (Rodriguez), daughter Roxanna (Ferlito), and parents Eddy (Molina) and Anna (Pena), are getting together for Christmas for the fist time in three years. Jesse is a soldier returning from Iraq, Mauricio and his wife Sarah (Messing) are feeling pressured by Anna to have a baby, and Roxanna is a struggling New York actress. Eddy owns a local bodega and has hopes that Jesse will take over the business now that he is back from the war. Anna and Eddy are having marital troubles that she says stem from him having an affair. As with most families there is sibling rivalry and resentment among the children. Mauricio and Sarah's relationship is strained because she has been offered an opportunity at work that will put children on the back burner. Mauricio is a bit of a dweeb who won't stand up to his mother. Jesse enlisted in the military against his parent's wishes, broke the heart of his childhood sweetheart when he left, and came back troubled and guilt ridden over what happened in the war. Roxanna isn't having much luck earning a living as an actress and is uncomfortable with the fact that everyone from the old neighborhood believes she is a star. Amidst the chaos is Eddy who seems to be the glue that holds the family together. He has a calming influence and overtly loving nature but underneath that he also has a secret that when revealed will transform the family dynamic in a way that none suspect.
Nothing like the holidays reminds me of movies like The family stone and This Christmas. Its story isn't as genuinely enriching or emotionally involving but it had its moments. I think there were a few too many secondary issues within the plotline that detracted from the primary focus within each and watered them down. The cast did a commendable job as they all seemed to portray characters that played to their strengths. It was refreshing to see Debra Messing in a part that probably took her out of her comedic comfort zone. The film addresses social, familial, and ethnic issues while briefly touching on responsibility, lost love, and casualties of war. It didn't have the engaging or heartwarming elements I anticipated it would but its message about the bonds of family made it enjoyable nonetheless.
The rating is for thematic elements including some sexual dialogue and brief drug references.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Nothing like the holidays comes to Blu-ray Disc from Anchor Bay HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 3.3 mbps.
This is nice looking high definition video presentation which utilizes a color palette that deliberately makes primary use of holiday based shades of red/green and sepia toned hues. There are splashes of other colors but all were held in check to give the video a flatter color perspective. Colors are rendered cleanly with realistic looking texture and delineation. The nature of the film's elements doesn't lend the video to being highly polished and three dimensionally resolute however images are detailed and sharp which provides appreciable depth and dimension. Close ups reveal lucid subtle nuance that allows the pores, stubble, peach fuzzy hair and subtle skin variation among the cast to be distinguishable. The texture on the surfaces of objects and clothing was just as appreciable which lent them to appear discernibly lifelike. Black/white levels are well balanced and visible detail within dark backgrounds and shadows is definitive. Grain is naturally rendered in fine layers that are never intrusive. The film relies heavily on dialogue however its musical accompaniment and diverse array of sounds certainly benefited from lossless audio's high resolution. Spoken dialogue was clear, well intonated and prominently placed within the front soundstage. The front three speakers presented an open and detailed soundstage with good channel separation and discernible directional correlation. Surround activity was limited to splashes of ambience and a few discretely placed effects that extended the breadth of the sound field. Paul Oakenfold's music had good top end air and estimable detail that delivered smooth highs and subtle refinement that flowed through the room. The occasional use of low frequency effects and extended dynamics offered robust bass and enhanced energy that accented the sound mix.
- Audio commentary with Freddy Rodriguez, director Alfred DeVilla and producer Robert Teitel
- (HD) Nothing like a family: Cast reunion - 11 minute retrospective by select cast members
- PiP insider - Bonusview exclusive featuring insights from the cast
- (HD) Bloopers - 15 minutes
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
- (HD) Previews:
- Paper heart
- Henry Poole is here
- Sunshine cleaning
- Digital Copy Bonus Disc
Nothing like the holidays is a decent holiday themed family film that lacks the genuine and emotive story of the better films within its genre. Its strength lies in its well placed cast and compelling aspects pertaining to the importance of familial bonds. I found it enjoyable and appreciated its solid audio/video presentation on Blu-ray Disc from Anchor Bay HE. As the holiday season draws near this one is worth checking out on movie night.
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