Tuesday, December 09, 2008

426 - Four Christmases review

“Four Christmases” provides a surplus of three Christmases and one bad comedy. It’s a brainless yuletide bore that slogs through one imbecilic family nightmare scenario after another, with but two objectives: to turn a profit and to offend our good sensibilities.

It stars Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon as Brad and Kate, live-in lovers who essentially know little of use about one another. The film burns all of its charm in approximately five minutes in an opening scene that establishes Brad and Kate as sexually adventurous, not that it has anything to do with the rest of the story.

Every Christmas they tell their four divorced parents that they’re volunteering in impoverished Asian countries and then go to a resort in Fiji instead. One day their flight is grounded and, har har, a TV camera broadcasts their Fiji-bound visages to their respective parents, all of whom apparently watch CBS at exactly the same moment every day. Now it’s off to see all four in one day, which in my experience is a good way to critically overeat.

Of course, these aren’t regular families, you see. They’re crazy families, with lascivious matriarchs and miscreant siblings, all of whom pointlessly torture their own child, because that’s how all of our parents behave when they’re trapped in a horrible romantic comedy. Brad’s father (Robert Duvall) cackles with glee as his sons brutalize one another. His mother (Sissy Spacek) flaunts her young lover’s sexual prowess during a game of Taboo. Does this sound funny, really? I hope not too much.

Kate’s mother (Mary Steenburgen) hits on Brad as he comes through the door. At this point the film becomes particularly enamored with ridiculing children; Kate was fat as a kid, you see, and her entire family was in a state of perpetual disgust with it. Should a PG-13 Christmas comedy have such a devotion to trite mean-spiritedness?

There are some kids in the movie, and they run around screaming, acting as if they don’t speak English, and causing mischief. Funny how movies tend to take that one child who always disrupted class and apply their personality to any character aged 13 and under.

Then there’s Kate’s father, played by Jon Voight as the only one of the four parents who isn’t clinically insane. He appears during the last 15 minutes and has time for approximately five lines; I’d assert that the writers ran out of things to do, but that was evident before the running time hit double digits.

There are five Oscar nominated actors listed above, and in my earlier days of reviewing I’d suggest that they had embarrassed themselves. Now, I don’t think that at all. Most people take jobs they don’t care for in order to pay the bills, and famous actors must do the same thing.

1 out of 5


William said...

I saw the preview for this one and instantly did not want to see it. The story looks like something we've all seen before I think they just added a Christmas element to it to capitalize on the holiday and get more money.

Ramin said...

I've come to expect this kind of idiocy from "Family" christmas movies ever since I saw Disney's "The Santa Clause" back in junior-high.

James said...

Make no mistake guys, this is a serious piece of garbage.

Will: The story could have easily been shifted to a number of other holidays without difficulty. Like most Christmas films there is little to do with the actual holiday.

Ramin: My girlfriend would get so mad if you said that to her. She just looooooves Christmas movies.

Dustin said...

Can we look forward to a follw-up with a review of "Nothing Like the Holidays"?

James said...

You can't, actually. This film expended my patience for Christmas movies this year.