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Four Christmases (2008)

Reviewed on 2009 December 3

So, someone read this script — written by four people no less (I guess that proves if you really want to mess things up you need a committee) — and still let it out of the pound? When I was watching this, it occurred to me The Family Stone were almost more fun to hang out with. I saw (but didn’t read) many less-than-stellar reviews, and decided to see it for myself. Since this thing had Reese Witherspoon, Vince Vaughn, Sissy Spacek and Robert Duvall in it, I wondered how it could fail. And then the characters started talking.

Brad and Kate (Vaughn and Witherspoon) are an oh-so-cute couple who avoid marriage and Christmas visits to their families, and I see both of these things, but Brad and Kate lie to their families, saying they’re going to do something noble like help fifth-world orphans while they’re really planning a trip to Fiji. Their vacation plans come screeching to a halt when SFO gets fogged in and their flights get cancelled. A perky infotainment being sticks a camera in their faces at the airport, their families see them on TV, and their cell phones start ringing. Now they feel stuck visiting each set of divorced parents, complete with annoying siblings and their bratty snotlings.

It’s hard to really like a smug couple, even more so when they can’t just grow a spine and hole up in their over-IKEA’d apartment, but I had to feel somewhat sorry for them when I saw their families. The only entertaining bit was Jon Favreau as Denver, and that wasn’t enough to salvage this. This could have been truly funny and instead it was just painful and stupid. Brad’s clan could have been hilarious if someone had toned them down more and instead we get A Very Deliverance Christmas for our first stop, and it doesn’t get much better.

I don’t think I can give this sucker any morsels. If you want to see fragmented screwy families, and not want to open your veins with a stake of holly, watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation or Home for the Holidays instead.

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