You know what's incredibly unfair? The fact that shitty, sentimental holiday dramedies about the power of family—with all of its pitfalls (cancer!) and quirks (Uncle Ted's farts!)—have historically been the exclusive purview of white people (and sometimes black people). I mean, what about the boring, shallow, stereotypical dinner-table bickering and weepy revelations of Latinos? What about Uncle Fernando's farts, I ask you? Eh? Por favor. Think of los niños.
Well, justice has finally been served, Puerto Ricans! Your time has come. Nothing Like the Holidays is a terrifically generic family-dinner-table drama, complete with ethnic foods, macho chainsawing ("I promised your mother a view"), homecomings, divorce, secrets, where-are-my-grandbabies, no-seriously-I-need grandbabies-before-I-die,-I-am-going-to-punch your-face-right- here-at-this-table-unless-you-become-impregnated-with-my- grandbaby-immediately, and Puerto Rican stuff. It's basically Heartwarming Family Movie Mad Libs, fill in the Puerto Rican stuff.
Jesse, the youngest, is back from Iraq. Mauricio, the richest, has a frigid white wife. Ozzy, the hottest, is tempted by the thug life. ("He killed my brother, man." "I guess it's payback time.") Mom is unhappy. Dad just wants everyone to have a good time. The frigid white wife loosens up. Jesse does not want to take over the bodega. Ummm, what else? Oh, right, nothing. Nothing else. You have seen this movie a bazillion times, only with "tuna casserole" or "kugel" instead of "tostones." Fill. In. The. Blanks.
There's a fantastic ensemble cast—John Leguizamo, Freddy Rodríguez, Elizabeth Peña, basically every Latino actor you've ever heard of (plus some who just kind of look Latino and have a mustache and are named Alfred Molina!)—wasted on this nothing of a script. The best thing about Nothing Like the Holidays is Luis Guzmán, who is almost always the best thing about everything he's in. The stuff that falls out of his giant head is hilarious. Like when he tells Mauricio and that frigid white wife to get pregnant and make some "kinda-sorta Ricans." Welcome to the club, Latinos. The sappy-full-length-movie-with-only-one-good-joke-in-it club. Bienvenidos.