OK, you know the drill. The far-flung members of a family return to their parents’ house for Christmas (or for Thanksgiving, or whatever) but things aren’t what they used to be. Kids grow up; people change. A series of crises flare up. Hopefully everything will work out satisfactorily before the closing credits. (Cue the group hug.)
Nothing Like the Holidays is a better-than-average example of the genre. Alfred Molina and Elizabeth Peña play the parents of a Puerto Rican family in Chicago. They have three sons: one is sort of a goofball; one has become a Yuppie New York lawyer, married to career-driven Jewish woman who isn’t enthusiastic about having children; and the third is a veteran just back from Iraq. There’s also a daughter who is a Hollywood actress, but is wondering whether it’s worth continuing to pursue a marginally successful career.
It follows the standard formula, and perhaps inevitably the ending feels just a little too pat. However the acting is good and there are some very funny moments. You could do a lot worse for a holiday movie this season.
Note, however that this is PG-13. Do the preschoolers a favor and take them to something else.