The film has more than its fair share of sourly comic episodes that could have been lifted from Parenthood or Spring and Port Wine. What it doesn't have is any degree of insight or sympathy for its characters - it's left entirely to the cast to redeem these ciphers of eccentricity.
They do a creditable job. You may feel like putting Robert Downey Jr's head in a vice as revenge for his frenzied performance here, but the film badly needs the voltage he brings to it. Hunter is mostly sympathetic, and as sure of comedy as she was in Raising Arizona - something which has been forgotten since The Piano.
The film is only really touching during Geraldine Chaplin's superb dinner- table scene, as this apparently senile woman locates a memory of startling clarity at the back of her mind. It's the role which offers the most opportunity for indulgence, but Chaplin's playing is subtle and sweet.
That aside, Home for the Holidays feels curiously cold for a film which is striving to be feel-good. It's as blank and uninvolving as sitting through someone else's home movies.