1 hour, 39 minutes
PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned.
for thematic elements including some sexual dialogue, and brief drug references.
Alfred Molina ... Edy Rodriguez
Elizabeth Peña ... Anna Rodriguez
Freddy Rodríguez ... Jesse Rodriguez
Luis Guzmán ... Johnny
Jay Hernandez ... Ozzy
John Leguizamo ... Mauricio Rodriguez
Debra Messing ... Sarah Rodriguez
|The boisterous Rodriguez family gathers for the holidays at the home of patriarch (Alfred Molina "Spider-Man 2),
a bodega owner, and his wife, Anna (Elizabeth Peña "Lone Star") who live in Chicago's Puerto Rican community. Son Jesse (Freddy Rodriguez "Poseidon") is just home from Iraq, bearing scars both
visible and not, while pining for Marissa (Melonie Diaz "Hamlet 2"), the girl he left
behind. Daughter Roxanna (Vanessa Ferlito "25th Hour") has become a "star" in Los
Angeles, but she's really not, and spends the entire holiday waiting
for a call regarding whether she's landed a long-awaited role in a movie. Big brother
Mauricio (John Leguizamo "Moulin Rouge") is a successful attorney and his high-powered executive wife Sarah
(Debra Messing "The Wedding Date"), are both so career-driven they've yet to fulfill Anna's wish for grandchildren. "She won't cook or eat," the older woman mutters in Spanish about her
rich, white daughter-in-law, while family and friends paint Mauricio as a
sellout and wonder why he and the missus haven't produced a "Sorta
Rican." They are joined by their friend Ozzy (Jay
Hernandez "Hostel") who's had a crush on Marissa since they were little while their cousin Johnny (Luis Guzman "Boogie Nights") tells everyone about everybody’s business and never stops eating.
The story’s not complete without Donder and Blitzen
and Rudolph and, of course, the symbolic old crooked tree in the front
yard which refuses to be cut down. It’s all great because it’s
Christmas and what really matters is that everyone’s all together.
The best part of the film directed Alfredo De Villa ("Adrift in Manhattan") is the earnestness of the performances;
most notably Elizabeth Peña, who, despite the huge cast, uses her
limited screen time to portray the powerful family matriarch. Giving another memorable performances is Luis Guzman who is really funny and gets to show a very human side of his comedic persona that
isn't on display in many of his more manic movie roles.
If only the movie took a few risks. As is, it's a thin, almost
claustrophobic story, with the family spending so much time inside the
house bantering, arguing and reconnecting that the occasional snow-covered, exterior scenes are a welcome relief.