Home for the Holidays

  • Review Date: November 13, 2006
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1995
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Funny, adult look at a dysfunctional holiday.
  • Review Date: November 13, 2006
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1995
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie is a sensitive portrayal of a family full of individuals who don't really know one another and wouldn't be friends if they weren't related.

Positive role models

Every member of this family has issues, but that is their appeal. Since they aren't your family, it's okay to laugh. Just don't attempt to look to them for moral guidance.

Violence

Claudia's dad threatens to hit a child, half-jokingly. Tommy, Walter, and Leo get into a fight, and Leo's nose gets broken.

Sex

Claudia makes out with her boss and, later, with a man she just met. Aunt Gladys admits a crush on her brother-in-law and kisses him during a crazy Thanksgiving dinner. Lots of sexual innuendo.

Language

Language includes "dammit," "son of a bitch," "holy s--t," "asshole," etc. Joanne lights into Tommy with an anti-gay tirade.

Consumerism

Jack in the Box gets a shout-out.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Claudia's mom chain-smokes, and Claudia smokes pot. There's considerable fighting fueled by holiday drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that kids will probably be bored by this movie when they aren't scandalized by its adult themes: It shows families as many of them really are -- filled with people who are struggling to understand their connection to and love for people they don't understand or really like. There's plenty of swearing, and at one point Joanne launches into a tirade about how disgusting and perverted it is that her brother is in love with another man. Claudia kisses her boss after being fired. Claudia's teenage daughter announces that she's going to have sex with her boyfriend while her mother's away for the holiday.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS centers on Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter), who is returning home for a big family Thanksgiving. But things aren't going well in her life. As she says in a mid-flight message to her brother, "I'm sick as a dog, and I made out with my boss, and my kid is going to have sex with a teenager. And then I got fired. Or whatever -- the other way around." Claudia's family includes her chain-smoking, chatterbox mom (Anne Bancroft); her oblivious, bitter dad (Charles Durning); her gay brother, Tommy (Robert Downey Jr.); her dotty Aunt Gladys (Geraldine Chaplin); her martyr sister, Joanne (Cynthia Stevenson); and Tommy's hot friend Leo (Dylan McDermott). Put them all together with a giant turkey, yammering children, and years of unspoken resentments and longing; mix with alcohol; and you have the ultimate family breakdown.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

All hail Claudia for attending her mad, dysfunctional Thanksgiving dinner so we don't have to! This is no A Christmas Story, and it's not Normal Rockwell, but that's its appeal. Home for the Holidays is an uproarious but also humane look at a family full of strangers. And we're all privileged to watch it.

What director Jodie Foster does brilliantly here is start the story out off-kilter and expertly time it so that the plot lines get more absurd and the dialogue more out of control until you feel like you're on a carnival ride, along for the ups and downs. And of course, since it's not your family, it's funny.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about any similarities they have to the Larson family. How does this movie compare to

  • traditional "holiday classics"? Which do you prefer?

  • Do you feel disconnected from your family members? What do you do to

  • create closeness and understanding between family members who are very

  • different?

  • Does being different have to mean hating one another?

  • How

  • would you resolve a similar situation?

  • How does Tommy's family in

  • Boston differ from his birth family?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 13, 1995
DVD release date:September 4, 2001
Cast:Anne Bancroft, Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr.
Director:Jodie Foster
Studio:MGM/UA
Genre:Comedy
Run time:103 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:thematic material, language and brief drug use.

This review of Home for the Holidays was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old August 4, 2010
AGE
12
QUALITY
 
soooooo boring i hate it seriously dont waste any of your precious life on this crappy movie
Kid, 10 years old November 9, 2009
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

iffy, but not 16+.

It's a little iffy but come on, 14-16?
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byMissParkerP August 6, 2010
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Age 13 and up can and should see this

This is probably the best family holiday movie around. Hunter and Downey's screen presence are amazing. The acting is well executed and every joke happens at just the right moment. It is the perfect example of the trivia we go through with our own families, so while it is a comedy, it also really hits home.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages

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