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Candace Cameron Bure,
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Cedric the Entertainer,
The title gives the impression that this will be a clichéd holiday flick that won't take long to be forgotten. However, while Alfredo De Villa's 'Nothing Like The Holidays' may have a similar story outline to other Christmas holiday flicks but what makes this stand out is the humour, the wonderful ensemble cast and the richness of the Puerto Rican culture. They story, though familiar, has heart. Movies like 'The Family Stone' come to mind but 'Nothing Like The Holidays' stays true to its story and characters unlike the aforementioned example. I liked that it did not have a fairy-tale ending.
What's also impressive is that that character and situations in the movie are easy to relate to and recognizable. The family Rodriguez very much felt like a real family. Each family member and their friends, Ozzy and Johnny carry their own burden but there is a strong bond of love and support that keeps them together. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments but 'Nothing Like The Holidays' can also be described as an interesting family drama and the themes such as sibling rivalry, reconciliation and forgiveness are well handled. I enjoyed how the Puerto Rican culture was brought by the family. It felt very natural and authentic.
Needless to say, the entire cast has done nothing short of an excellent job. Initially, it was a bit awkward to see John Leguizamo play Elizabeth Peña's son but after a few minutes of watching their interaction, I managed to look past that and enjoy the characters. It was also good to finally see Debra Messing in a movie where she is given a role of substance instead of 'the sidekick friend' or 'cheating wife'. Alfred Molina brilliantly downplays his part. The romance between Ozzie and Roxanna, played delightfully by Jay Hernandez and Vanessa Ferlito forms a nice little subplot. Melonie Diaz has a strong presence. Luis Guzman is the comic relief and Freddy Rodriguez is simply great. To sum it up, the cast seemed to have superbly worked off each other and as a result they were really convincing as a likable but real family.
In my opinion, 'Nothing Like The Holidays' is much superior to most Christmas holiday flicks. A great movie to watched with loved ones and even though it feels familiar, its charm, humour, treatment, culture and heart make it worthy.
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