Bil’s rating (out of 5): B. USA/Canada, 2004. The Convex Group, Neverland Films, Code Entertainment, Red Rose Productions LLC. Screenplay by David Hubbard. Cinematography by Russell Carpenter. Produced by Al Corley, Eugene Musso, Bart Rosenblatt, Howard Rosenman. Music by Alan Menken. Production Design by Carol Spier. Costume Design by Renee April. Film Editing by Susan E. Morse. Toronto International Film Festival 2004.
Chazz Palminteri directs an abysmally manipulative and forgettable ensemble comedy about lonely people looking for love on Christmas. Susan Sarandon has been left alone by tragic circumstances and has only her near-comatose mother for company; she makes friends with the family member of a patient in another room before wandering the city and having random encounters, winning a sad story contest at a bar and walking into the Christmas dinner of a Latino family. In that family is daughter Penelope Cruz, who has just discovered reasons to not stay with her perpetually angry New York City cop boyfriend (Paul Walker, trying his best but hopelessly miscast), while he is frustrated by a diner host (Alan Arkin) who believes he is the reincarnation of his late wife. There’s also a young man trying to get himself checked into a hospital to relive a favourite Christmas memory in a film whose bad dialogue wants so desperately to be poignant that the film’s bleeding heart is actually embarrassing and awkward. If nothing else, take your cue from the fact that Cruz has her hair dyed black to look more Latina and appears to be the only member of her family with a non-American accent.