Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Family...Can't Live With Them, Can't Kill Them

Ahhhhh, I am feeling refreshed after taking a week off to focus on things other than blogging.  One, I caught up on some sleep this weekend (the extra hour Saturday night really helped)...two, I caught up on a backlog of grading...and three, I started thinking about what I wanted to write about this month regarding Thanksgivng movies.  Would you believe that there aren't that many films that are set at this festive holiday of feasting and giving thanks?  There are scads upon scads of them based on Christmas, but few that really hit at Thanksgiving.  I guess that's because, financially, studios would much rather produce films set during that much more colorful and festive time (and then release them at Thanksgiving so they can play all through the season).  I really don't think storytelling has anything to do with it, because television shows have been making great Thanksgiving episodes for years...usually centered around the idea of family squabbles coming to a head over the dinner table.  Oh the irony, fighting and bickering on a day when we're supposed to be thankful for what we have.  There was one film that took this long-mined sitcom staple and fashioned it into a respectable film that is both humorous and dramatic.  It was the second directoral outing of Jodie Foster, who had proved her leadership skills with Little Man Tate, and though it used the title of a famous Christmas song, it chose the less-used Thanksgiving setting.  Now let's grab a turkey leg and head Home for the Holidays.

Claudia Larson is doing fine as a single-mother and making a decent living as an art restorer.  All of that changes however when she is let go from her job due to budget cuts.  Already planning to go home for Thanksgiving, Claudia must then prepare herself for breaking the news to her family...especially her mother who is already critical of her being a single-mother.  Claudia also is dealing with the maturing of her daughter, Kitt, who has decided to stay home from the holiday gathering to have sex with her boyfriend.  Upon arrival, Claudia's stress is compunded by her uppity sister Joanne, Joanne's two spoiled children, and her gay brother Tommy.  If the whirlwind of personalities wasn't enough, there is still a holiday to get through.  You can feel safe in assuming that before the meal has ended, tempers will flare, tears will flow, and food will be snubbed.  Sounds like a typical family Thanksgiving to me.

I have a confession to make...I have not actually seen this film all the way through.  I know, I know, why am I writing about it then?  You have to understand that finding Thanksgiving movies to write about is very difficult because there really just aren't very many of them.  I will say that I have seen the very beginning of this film up to where Claudia finally has to confess to her mother that she lost her job.  It's a pretty hilarious film up to that point because the humor all stems from situations that we have all found ourselves in at some point I'm sure.  Who hasn't had to admit something disappointing or embarrassing to an overbearing parent?  Who hasn't felt harried and stressed at a holiday?  Who hasn't recieved horrible news at a holiday?  Seeing the world beat up on Claudia is part of the fun...and also part of why we can also emphathize with her.  I am planning to finish the film before the big day this month, because I have been wondering what happens to her ever since catching the first bit on television years back (my Netflix is just now catching up).  So I'll make you a deal...once I've finished the movie I will post my reaction here and decide if my initial impression of it (a funny and dark film) still applies.  Stay tuned!

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