- Attempting a fusion of wacky family hijinks and painful soul-baring, like Planes, Trains And Automobiles crossed with sex, lies, and videotape
- Making heroine Holly Hunter into a self-absorbed artist who can't seem to bear the love of her seemingly very nice parents
- Letting Robert Downey Jr. hijack the movie as the gay brother who spits on everything to make up for some perceived slight
Director Jodie Foster
Tone Of Commentary
Infuriatingly pretentious. Foster claims she was speaking for "all" people between 25 and 45, who can't stand the "forced parental love" of the holiday season: "One of the reasons people didn't relate to the movie is that there's a real edginess to the point of view. If you hold our holidays as [sanctified] and you still believe that we all demonstrate our love for each other, and that your children care for you, this film is insulting."
What Went Wrong
Foster says that W.D. Richter's screenplay was "a big, beautiful, insane, pointless mess," which she thought would give her the opportunity to "emulate the chaos of a Cassavetes movie." But at the same time, Foster admits that she finds improvisation unhelpful and distracting, and that she's "really anal" about technical details. The result is a movie that feels both fussed-over and meaninglessly cruel.
Comments On The Cast
At one point, Foster wonders why the American belief that "This is the greatest country in the world" gives us license "to be judgmental and critical," but then she rags on the Sears-quality wardrobe her cast had to wear, praising them for their "sacrifices." She adds that Downey's character didn't start out gay, but that he developed it that way. ("He gets bored.")
Inevitable Dash Of Pretension
The whole commentary, really, but Foster hits a special low when she talks about how Hunter's character, being an artist, can see the tragedy in people that they can't see themselves.
Commentary In A Nutshell
"It's this moment every artist faces. [You've] just done the best work of [your] life… and then somebody says, 'You suck.'"