The Fitzgerald Family Christmas

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The Fitzgerald Family Christmas
January 2, 2013
Showtimes (change daily)
1:00, 5:20, 9:10

The Brothers McMullen writer-director-star Edward Burns returns to the family well once again with this warm, acutely observed story about an expansive Irish clan’s fraught yuletide when the long-absent patriarch declares his intention to come home for the holidays

While big families can be a joy, the potential for drama is just as great — it’s just the undeniable emotional math, and an equation that writer-director-actor Edward Burns has always understood. ­ Reuniting with Brothers McMullen co-stars Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights), and Mike McGlone, along with Noah Emmerich (Little ChildrenBeautiful Girls) and Kerry Bishé (NewlywedsRed State), Burns’ lovely new film warmly and acutely observes the strange, sometimes explosive alchemy of parents and progeny. Twenty years ago, Big Jim Fitzgerald (Ed LauterThe ArtistThe Longest Yard) walked out on his wife Josie (Anita Gillette) and their seven children. While the four oldest were already grown when Jim took a powder, the three youngest have never really known their father. In the ensuing years the kids grew up, some married, some struggled — but they, and their mother, found a way to move forward and, however loosely, stay together. But this year, with the holidays approaching, word comes to the oldest son, Gerry (Burns), that Big Jim wants to return and spend Christmas with his family. The news hits like a hand grenade. Jim’s prospective return comes at a tough time, as each of the kids are grappling with significant issues of their own. The Fitzgerald’s emotional grab bag of grievance, collateral damage and, yes, fierce familial love, erupts. The ensuing holiday will be a celebration of hope, forgiveness, and the kind of gentle awkwardness every family can understand. -Jane Schoettle
(USA, 2012, 99 mins., color, Blu-ray
– Director/Writer: Edward Burns – Cast: Edward Burns, Anita Gillette, Kerry Bishé, Connie Britton, Heather Burns, Brian D’Arcy James, Marsha Dietlein Bennett, Dara Coleman, Noah Emmerich, Caitlin FitzGerald, Tom Guiry, Ed Lauter, Malachy McCourt, Daniella Pineda, Nick Sandow, John Solo, Joyce Van Patten, Michael McGlone – 2012 Toronto Film Festival)