Picks and Pans Review: Home for the Holidays

updated 11/13/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/13/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning

As much of an anti-holiday movie as Planes, Trains & Automobiles but a lot less funny, this bitter movie directed by Jodie Foster isn't profound enough to put a serious dent in the general reverence for Thanksgiving, but it does its damnedest.

Hunter plays a Chicago museum art restorer who has been fired just before going home to Baltimore for the family gathering. (Her firing is a brief scene but the best, most natural one in the film.) On the flight she is, of course, seated beside a chatterbox, and once off the plane her parents, Bancroft and Durning, harangue her with dumb questions about her single life. (In stark contrast to the chronic busyness of Hunter's acting is Bancroft's subtle way with a cutting remark.) Bancroft is obsessed with preparing the holiday meal while Durning, in comic bumbler mode, plays "Puppy Love" to show off his new electric organ.

Cynthia Stevenson plays Hunter's sister, who'd rather burn calories on her StairMaster than consume them at the family feast. Downey drags out his halting comic timing and constant smirking as a gay brother making a surprise visit.

Writer W.D. Richter, adapting Chris Radant's short story, beats up on Thanksgiving without making any comic mileage out of a TV football game or dull parade, then takes a slide with a happy, romantic ending that seems unrelated to the first half of the film. (PG-13)

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