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(Column) Rice: Just Another Gal from Casper – ‘Home for the Holidays’

Kate Rice


I’m a big fan of holidays, including Thanksgiving. Growing up, I loved family get-togethers. I was lucky. Not everyone shares that warm, fuzzy feeling hanging out with their relatives. I mean, you can love your family, but really, really not like them…

1995’s Home for the Holidays is a fun, poignant and realistic portrayal of this concept. With a cast list as delish as a Thanksgiving feast (Holly Hunter, Robert Downey, Jr. and Dylan McDermott, to name a few) and an amazing director (Jodie Foster), this movie is my yearly holiday pre-game. Bonus? The movie opens with Rusted Root’s choice cover of the rock classic “Evil Ways.”  

Claudia Larson (Hunter) kinda makes out with her boss, loses her job, finds out her daughter (Claire Danes) plans to spend Thanksgiving with her boyfriend in the biblical sense, and very reluctantly flies home to Baltimore for the big day — all within the first 15 minutes of the movie. Claudia’s got a cold. Her mother’s overbearing; her father, recently retired and underfoot.

Worse, she has to endure all of this without her favorite brother Tommy (Downey, Jr.) — or so she thinks. Tommy, larger than life, sneaks in early Thanksgiving morning, accompanied by the very charming Leo Fish (McDermott). Frustrated, Claudia asks what happened to Tommy‘s longtime boyfriend Jack, but Tommy’s more interested in creating mayhem than discussing his personal life. 

Like so many family get-togethers, this holiday builds into one giant cluster tinged with amusement, bigotry, sadness, anger and love. And every year, Home for the Holidays speaks to me in ways I don’t always expect.

Last year’s uncomfortable epiphany? I share a few undesirable traits with Claudia and Tommy’s oldest sister Joanne (Cynthia Stevenson) — not the bigotry and the lack of a sense of humor, but the trait of sometimes trying to control the perceived chaos of those around me? Um…Guilty. 

Luckily, I also relate to the less uptight characters as well — I promise you that if anyone, myself included, ended up covered in greasy Thanksgiving turkey, I’d laugh until I couldn’t breathe. (Spoiler alert — Joanne does not laugh.) 

For me, watching Home for the Holidays is like sharing the holiday with this crazy, imperfect, totally relatable family every year. I look forward to spending time with them almost as much as gorging on mashed potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie. Stream Home for the Holidays on Amazon and Paramount+ or search streaming, renting or buying options through places like Amazon or eBay. 

The DVD cover for “Home for the Holidays.” (Kate Rice)