Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays Information

Home for the Holidays is a 1995 comedy-drama film directed by Jodie Foster and produced by Peggy Rajski and Foster. The screenplay was by W. D. Richter based on the short story by Chris Radant. The music score was by Mark Isham and the cinematography by Lajos Koltai.

The film stars Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Dylan McDermott, Geraldine Chaplin, Steve Guttenberg, Cynthia Stevenson, Claire Danes, Austin Pendleton and David Strathairn.


Claudia Larson is a single mom who has just been fired from her job as an art restorer due to budget cuts. She flies to spend Thanksgiving at the home of her parents, Adele and Henry Larson, while her only child Kitt decides to stay home and spend the holiday with her boyfriend. Kitt informs Claudia that she intends to have sex with her boyfriend for the first time.

The family gathering also includes Claudia's resentful, conservative sister, Joanne Larson Wedman, her stuffy banker brother-in-law Walter and their two spoiled children. Also there is Claudia's gay brother Tommy and his new friend Leo Fish, along with their eccentric Aunt Glady.

Tommy has been in a long term relationship with another man, Jack, so Claudia can't understand what he is doing here with a new guy by his side. But it turns out Leo has come along for the holidays to be introduced to Claudia. Tommy, it turns out, married Jack. After a hectic, argument-filled Thanksgiving, when Claudia boards a plane home, Leo goes with her.



Screenwriter W. D. Richter adapted a short story by Chris Radant that appeared in the Boston Phoenix. Executive producer Stuart Kleinman sent Jodie Foster the screenplay with a note that said, "It's a complete mess and I love it." Foster agreed and decided that it would be her second directorial effort (the first was Little Man Tate). Castle Rock Films was originally going to finance the film but canceled. Foster's own production company, Egg Productions, acquired Richter's screenplay. She struck a deal with Paramount Pictures to distribute the film theatrically and PolyGram Filmed Entertainment to handle the international rights and domestic video and pay TV. These rights now belong to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer through their acquisition of PolyGram's pre-1996 library.

Foster said, "The great challenge was to find a beautiful idea to pull through it, a narrative line that would make the story work." Foster met with Richter and together they brainstormed and "had great fun thinking up new details and lives and clearing up the relationships," Foster remembers. They worked on the script so that the film reflected Foster's point-of-view and her own life experiences. She showed the first draft to Holly Hunter who agreed to star after reading it. Working with a $20 million budget, Foster spent ten weeks filming in Baltimore with a two-week rehearsal period. She used this time to get input from the actors about dialogue. If a scene of speech did not ring true, she wanted to know. She picked the city because it was the "prototype of the American city. It's dangerous, east coasty, urban. Yet it still has a hopeful quality to it." Principal photography began February 1995. Filming of the Thanksgiving dinner took more than ten days, using 64 turkeys, 20 pounds of mashed potatoes, 35 pounds of stuffing, 44 pies, 30 pounds of sweet potatoes, 18 bags of mini-marshmallows and 50 gallons of juice that stood in for wine. Foster allowed Robert Downey Jr. to improvise which got him excited about making films again after a period of time where he became disillusioned with acting.


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Track listing

  1. Rusted Root - "Evil Ways" 4:03
  2. Mark Isham - "Holiday Blues" 4:46
  3. Nat King Cole - "Candy" 3:51
  4. Tom Jones - "It's Not Unusual" 2:01
  5. Mark Isham - "Blue Nights" 9:25
  6. Mark Isham - "Birth of the Cool Whip" 2:53
  7. Dinah Washington - "Trouble in Mind" 2:50
  8. Mark Isham - "Late Night Blues" 4:59
  9. Mark Isham - "Medley of the Very Thought of You/With Us Alone" 2:42
  10. Ray Noble - "The Very Thought of You" 4:25
  11. Nat King Cole - "The Very Thought of You" 3:47
  12. Janis Joplin - "Piece of My Heart" 4:14


Box office

Home for the Holidays was released on November 3, 1995 in 1,000 theaters and grossed USD $4 million in its opening weekend. It went on to make $17.5 million in North America.


The film received mixed to positive reviews from critics with a 62% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a 56 metascore at Metacritic. In his three and half star review, Roger Ebert praised Foster's ability to direct "the film with a sure eye for the revealing little natural moment," and Downey's performance that "brings out all the complexities of a character who has used a quick wit to keep the world's hurts at arm's length." Janet Maslin, in her review for The New York Times, praised Holly Hunter's performance: "Displaying a dizziness more mannered than the cool, crisp intelligence she shows in Copycat, Ms. Hunter still holds together Home for the Holidays with a sympathetic performance." In his review for the Boston Globe, Jay Carr praised the film for being "filled with juicy performances that expand resourcefully beyond what we think are going to be their boundaries, the film carries us beyond our expectations. That's what makes it so pleasurable."

USA Today gave the film three out of four stars and wrote, "Home has the usual hellish ritual. They come, they eat, they argue, they leave. It's the stuffing in-between that makes it special." However, in her review for the Washington Post, Rita Kempley criticized some of the performances: "Downey brings a lot of energy to the role, but his antics can be both tedious and distracting. Hunter has a lovely scene with her disgruntled sister, but there's no time for that relationship to develop, what with a romantic interest yet to explore." In his review for Rolling Stone magazine, Peter Travers had problems with the screenplay: "It's a shame that W.D. Richter's un-Disney-ish script often slides into shrill stereotypes and sitcom silliness."

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Home_for_the_Holidays_%28film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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