Saturday, November 29, 2008

FOUR CHRISTMASES

I don't believe in getting wrapped-up in the madness that is "Black Friday" - though I'm still surprised that Lionsgate hasn't put out a straight-to-video movie based around it -, but I do believe in the annual post-Thanksgiving/pre-Christmas holiday family-comedy film. A Christmas Story was the first one I remember. The Family Stone was the most recent one I remember liking (it's really much better than all of y'all think it is). And Jingle All The Way was the worst of the lot... until Four Christmases, that is.

But I believed in Four Christmases. I believed that Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn could generate a more convincing comic chemistry than Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston were able to in the almost-kind of good The Break-Up.

Witherspoon's on-screen comic lightness does expose the smug underbelly that Aniston just can't seem to shake off even among her more tolerable performances in Along Came Polly, Friends With Money, and She's The One. And as Vaughn has kept on the chub, he's a much more huggable and charming version of himself than the one that broke out in Swingers. But damn, not even the most stubborn audience member should expect quality from these two talents when they're saddle-bagged with a script as bogus as the four-person created page-burner of Four Christmases.

Brad (Vaughn) and Katie (Witherspoon) get flight-delayed in their hometown of San Francisco, and when their plan to avoid all holiday family contact becomes unveiled at the hands of a at-the-scene news reporter, the couple must visit all four of their households through the remainder of December 25th. Though the film is set in northern California, the screenwriters four and director Seth Gordon apparently felt like channeling flyover country for some of the comedy. Most draining is the evangelical nativity re-enactment sequence that will drain all the blood from your brain and wish for someone to strike a million matches off the the top of your head so that you can feel something other than the opposite of a good time.

Fresh from directing the beloved and slow-growing crowd-pleaser The King of Kong, Seth Gordon has a box office smash on his hands with Four Christmases, but what a rotten path to take in order to reach that plateau. The hook of the film plays on the misery all of us have experienced as captive family members back home for the holidays. But the wicked twist of Four Christmases is that it actually makes you want to rush out of the theater (the still of Reese Witherspoon up top is representative of the viewing experience...) and into the arms of those Christmas sweaters and board game festivities back home that you previously took for granted. In that way, I guess Four Christmases does deliver a bit of that lil' old holiday spirit.

31 comments:

Jess said...

I too really like The Family Stone, but I liked this a lot more than you did.

bill r. said...

Why did you go see this? That was your first mistake.

Fox said...

Jess-

I will say that I liked Jon Favreau and Robert Duvall. They made me laugh.

Bill R.-

When your football team sucks as much as mine does, you have a lot of extra time on your hands.

p.s. Sorry about your Redskins. (I had money on them, btw...)

Megan said...

Just from watching the commercials, I knew. Once Vince's character says that his brothers are wrestlers.

Sigh. Game over, man.

Reese deserves a better script than that. And so does Vince, come to think of it.

Niners could actually end the season 8-8. The future is out there...

Fox said...

Wow. Megan. Much respect to you for sticking with your Niners. I admire nothing more than someone who doesn't abandon their team. Mine, The Texans, are 4-7.

Coincidentally, I was in Jacksonville this week and met at least three Jaguar fans that had abandoned their team. Now, I understand their frustration, but you gotta stand strong!

p.s. If your guys win their last 4 games and finish 8-8 then I will give you $5.

bill r. said...

The season's over. I'm packing it in. Not really, but that describes my current mood.

Fletch said...

Hey, I'm a Niners fan, too. Woot! 2nd place in the division is all but locked up. ;)

Yeah, 4 Xmases blew. The Taboo scene was the highlight, and I enjoyed Vaughn's riffing, but it's painful otherwise. Favreau wasn't given enough to do at all, and neither was Yoakam.

Fox said...

Fletch-

Agreed on that Taboo scene. Favreau reference of John Grisham was probably the best line in the movie.

Megan said...

Fox - I was going come back with double or nothing team records, but I saw that Texans game tonight.

Didn't JAX have a defense, once not so long ago? Poor Jack. He is my second-handsomest football coach, after Omar Ep...I mean, Mike Tomlin...

Nick Plowman said...

Christmas. Four of them? Yes, please! That's why I would see this. But! You hate it, so.

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