One of my absolute favorite activities is quoting movies. I particularly enjoy quoting them in the presence of my brother, who fully understands and appreciates each distinctive reference. Since we were children, we have been perfecting the art of movie quotes. Our favorite movies to quote range from obvious choices such as The Princess Bride or National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to more obscure gems like Adventures in Babysitting and Field of Dreams. (No, not the “Is This Heaven? No, it’s Iowa.” cliche. We aim higher.)
My favorite movie of all time, however, is Home for The Holidays, a brilliant film directed by Jodie Foster, starring Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr.
One of the reasons I love it is the stellar cast that also includes Dylan McDermott and the late, great geniuses Anne Bancroft and Charles Durning. But more importantly, Home for the Holidays is sprinkled with impeccable dialogue and commentary on family relationships and dysfunction.
It is chock-full of quotable quotes, and thus combines two of my favorite hobbies: quoting movies and analyzing family dynamics. (Sidenote: I’m quite certain these two hobbies make me insufferable to live with at times.) Another reason my brother and I were so drawn to this movie during our formative adolescent years is because we so clearly identified with the sibling relationship between Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr. We saw each ourselves in the characters, but more significantly, we saw the depth, devotion, and complexity of our own relationship in that of Claudia and Tommy.
We loved contributing our own commentary and analysis of the other characters- the uptight other sister, the obnoxious, attention-seeking niece, the endearing and politically-incorrect father, the batty old aunt, and of course the incomparable matriarch played by Anne Bancroft. We thought we were so clever and insightful. Years later, I am convinced that we were, and still are, as clever and insightful as we presumed ourselves to be.
My favorite movies are ones I identify with, that shed light on topics and relationships that make me squirm with recognition, and that provide ample opportunity for self-reflection and analysis of my own relationships. I am also quite obsessed with memorializing family moments, and Home for the Holidays is a brilliant snapshot of a typical dysfunctional Thanksgiving Dinner.
In my own life, I often become preoccupied with capturing slices of our life; I love taking photographs and displaying them prominently, recording ordinary moments on video, and blogging about my family. On that note, I’m going to share my personal favorite home movie.
My oldest daughter was three years old at the time, and she had memorized a few of her favorite books and liked to “read” them to us during her pretend “library time.” On this occasion, something funny had just happened- I believe a book had fallen off the shelf onto someone’s head- and I was reliving it in my mind while she read. I got the giggles- and she was rather offended by my lack of decorum and respect for “library time.”
This may seem like a strange favorite home movie; certainly we’re not doing anything extraordinary or impressive, not to mention the fact that I kind of look like crap, but it is a beautiful memory in my mind, and a realistic snapshot of life with a preschooler.
Those moments where you somehow manage to perfectly capture a real moment in a family’s life, be it messy, frustrating, or breathtaking, are my favorite movies. On the big screen, or in our living room. I love being able to catch the richness, complexity, and mesmerizing layers of family life. The difficult relationships, the imperfections, the chaos, and the love.
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