Four Christmases(released Nov/08)stars Vince Vaughn as Bradford 'Brad' McVie,Reese Witherspoon as Kate,Robert Duvall as Howard McVie,Sissy Spacek as Paula,Jon Voight as Creighton,Mary Steenburgen as Marilyn,and many others. I recall seeing this film on its premiere night way back when and thought it was not too bad a flick.I was expecting,as most so called 'comedies' are these days,something smarmy,and putting out with the quick witticisms and all,but it was just a little different enough to be able to enjoy it.
The story introduces us to an unmarried "modern" couple,Brad and Kate.Christmas is almost here and neither have spent a Christmas at any of their parents(all divorced)for at least three years now.They are a totally self indulgent couple,who love each other and tend to constantly analyze every minutiae of their relationship,in the most clinical and politically correct of terminology.They are certainly imaginative,because as the film opens the two are role playing in a bar(we don't know that until the scenario plays itself out).Brad comes up to Kate posing as a geeky mid westerner,totally unsure of himself.Kate listens then proceeds to blow his lame lines and him right out of the water.As she walks away he starts coming on like macho gangbusters and before you know it the two are making out in a washroom.
The next day the two are packing for and going to the airport,to catch a flight to Fiji.They each take turns phoning their relatives with another lame excuse about going to help out the indigenous population on a charitable flight.However this is San Francisco and the weather conspires to fog them in and get their flight cancelled for a day.And to boot they are interviewed on television,which each and every relative sees.Now they are obliged to go Christmas visiting to their relatives whether they like it or not.
The first stop is Brad's father's home(Duvall),where he lives with Brad's two brothers and one of their pregnant wives.Both brothers act like fugitives from the WWE,with Brad as the brunt of their antics.The next one they see is Kate's mother(Steenburgen)who is there with HER mother and Kate's sister.Brad gets along alright but Kate,not so well.The next parent on the list is Brad's mother(Spacek),ho is shacked up with Brad's old boyhood best friend,so things don't go so well there.With each parent's visit,the two come to learn some awkward things about the other and themselves,which slowly raises tensions between the two.By the time they reach the final parent,Kate's father(Voight),the two are not speaking and Brad doesn't want to even come in,so leaves to go to his father's house.When Brad hears his father say that he is actually just like him,that is the straw which breaks the camels back and he returns to Kate to apologize and make up.And of course with making up comes the gentle toned,couple-self-analysis both are so good at doing.A year passes and the two have a new baby,on New Years day at that.A nurse asks about their families reaction and they say they haven't told them yet.The film ends as a TV camera crew comes in wanting to talk to the parents of the first new born of the year.
I found the humour to be well maintained throughout the picture.Their self analytical and politically correct approach and calm demeanours,when discussing anything related to their relationship,never fails to tickle the funny bone.Their families are a totally dysfunctional lot,which makes the two's mature personalities even more stark in contrast.The film is edited well and all actors involved do a a good job in their roles.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 1:78:1 and is clear and crisp.There are no extras.
All in all a surprisingly good Christmas film.This is NOT a film for the kiddies,but geared towards a more mature audience of say 17-18 years and up,due to the content.It does stay smart and punchy throughout and the acting is solid.Recommended.3 1/2- 4 stars.