December 01, 2013

Going DUTCH On Thanksgiving

"You're like a great big demented child."
Traditionally, Thanksgiving has always been my least favorite holiday, due mostly to the fact that turkey is one of the few kinds of meat I just plain don't like eating.  I'm all about the starches and the carbs - mashed potatoes, cornbread, mac & cheese HELLS YES - but disliking the centerpiece of the meal on a holiday that's based largely around eating makes for a pretty miserable time for a kid with a picky palate.  My mother likes to tell a story (which I maintain is apocryphal) about the time that my grandmother served me hot dogs on a silver platter, but for the most part Thanksgiving has always been a bit of a letdown for me.

That is, until I eventually moved 3000 miles away from the majority of my family and couldn't fly home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It's a predicament that's widely shared by the majority of Los Angeles residents, and while late December sees the city largely vacated, late November sees a lot of people unable to share a holiday meal with their families.  Hosting duties typically fell to us since our apartment was the biggest and it was at that point when I realized that, as the man in the kitchen, I could cook whatever the hell I wanted.  Thus was born my signature Thanksgiving ham and the beginning of my new favorite holiday.  And while the ham and the carbo-loading are all well and good, really it's the gathering of friends that makes the day such a delight.  One year we had upwards of 30 people in my home and got the cops called on us.  That was a good year.  Christmas is all about family, but for me Thanksgiving has become a celebration of friendship.

Since we moved back to Boston I was a little worried that I'd lose some of that Thanksgiving mojo, mostly because a lot of my local friends grew up around here and spend the day with their real families.  But the last few years we've managed to put together a solid gathering of friends from out of town as well as a spread of tasty eats.  This year was no exception; along with my specially glazed ham (I added Jameson this year at the urging of my guests, which was an excellent decision) Jamie cooked a massive turkey as well as some kickass mac & cheese and mashed potatoes, while others brought cornbread casserole, squid (thanks Chinatown!) and a plethora of pies.  There was food, there was booze and there were epic party games to close out the night.  All in all it was a fabulous day.

I'd intended to knock out a movie early in the day but our various cleaning and food preparations precluded that effort.  I really wanted to find a Thanksgiving appropriate movie, but I found myself with surprisingly few titles that I hadn't already seen.  I found a horror movie called Thankskilling about the murderous rampage of a vengeful turkey, but after about 90 seconds it looked just this side of artless softcore porn so I shut it off and opted for the only other alternative that was readily available: Dutch.

Obviously I'm a big fan of John Hughes, but the guy's writing career pretty much peaked with Home Alone.  Dutch definitely marked the beginning of the end for Hughes and since I never watched Married With Children growing up, the Al Bundy of it all never really held any appeal for me.  Dutch is a minor effort, like a rough draft of any other Hughes' film featuring a precocious, big-for-his-britches adolescent who eventually learns a touching lesson about the value of family.  The only thing that sets this one apart is that it happens to be a road movie.  So it's basically Home Alone meets Planes, Trains & Automobiles, but lacking the wit of either of those films.  On the other hand, it does feature a very young, karate proficient Ethan Embry (credited as Ethan Randall) who's almost unrecognizable solely by virtue of having his hair parted down the middle.  Also, Shooter McGavin in a double breasted suit and a child molester mustache.

Dutch is vaguely entertaining, even if the story is a bit of a mess.  It's exactly the kind of movie that's perfect to throw on in the background during the holidays.  Honestly, that's probably the only situation in which I'll ever watch it again.

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Title: Dutch
Director: Peter Faiman
Starring: Ed O'Neil, Ethan Embry, JoBeth Williams, Christopher McDonald, Ari Myers, Elizabeth Daily, L. Scott Caldwell
Year Of Release: 1991
Viewing Method: Netflix Instant (TV)