People Tell Me I Look Like Han Solo.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
  DVD Review: Four Christmases


People tend to find this strange (presumably because I usually come across as a fairly unsentimental guy), but I love Christmas. I'm not religious, but the gifts and the "goodwill towards men" and all of that never fails to warm my heart. And while I've found that the last few years' worth of new Christmas movies has been pretty dire – they're usually just broad family comedies with an extra helping of sap – there's a handful of Christmas movies I watch every year, like Scrooged and Die Hard. Four Christmases, I can safely say, will not be entering my personal holiday-movie rotation any time soon. It's not awful, and I'm sure will make decent enough viewing for a great many people during the holiday season, but it takes certain ideas for granted – for example, that everyone hates their family and dreads spending time with them over the holidays – that I just couldn't access, and it kept me from really getting into it. That and the terrible jokes. There's a lot of those too.

The plot of Four Christmases follows Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon), an unmarried couple with a holiday tradition of lying to their respective families about having other things to do (like inoculating poor children in South America) while they take a sunny vacation together and enjoy not being around their kin. But when weather shuts down the airport on they day they're set to leave for Fiji – and after their little scheme is inadvertently outed to their families live on local TV – they're forced to actually spend the holidays with each of their divorced parents and their new family units (hence the title). But buried in this cute premise is'Holding presents' is about the sum total of Christmas content in this film one of the biggest issues I had with Four Christmases; Brad and Kate don't care about Christmas at all, and are more than happy to spend it on a beach somewhere after having shipped their families big piles of expensive gifts in lieu of their presence, and this translates into Four Christmases being probably the least Christmas-y Christmas movie I've ever seen. The moral of the story doesn't really have anything to do with the holidays – it's about accepting your roots and loving your family no matter who they are – and instead the holidays are more of a backdrop, or, more cynically, a device to move the plot forward. Four Christmases isn't really a Christmas movie, it's just a movie that happens to take place at Christmas, like Batman Returns.

Which is not to say there's nothing to like here. As much as his last several movies haven't really appealed to me (including this one), I still happen to find Vince Vaughn very funny, especially when he's given the freedom to improvise, and he basically tapdances all over this movie. He's also joined by some able supporting performers, including Swingers and Made buddy (and Iron Man director) Jon Favreau as one of Brad's two cage-fighting brothers. (The other is country singer Tim McGraw, and while he's not as over-the-top as Favreau, he's still hilarious.) Vaughn also has a solid chemistry with Witherspoon, who isn't anywhere near as funny and wisely leaves most of the comedic heavy lifting to her co-star.

The humor in Four Christmases veers into slapstick too often and for no good reason, and I found none of it funny. (Except maybe for tFavreau vs. Vaughn in the best scene in the entire moviehe part where Witherspoon fights a bunch of kids, but even that's funnier in concept than execution.) The jokes – that is, the stuff not improvised by Vaughn – felt tired and obvious, and Brad's and Kate's families are "characters" in a way that's condescending and vaguely offensive. There are a lot of cultural stereotypes on display, like Brad's father's trailer-trash clan and Kate's proper, Bible-thumping mom, but nothing interesting or funny is done with them; they're just presented as being funny for their own sakes, and they're really not.

I suspect Four Christmases is a movie that a lot of viewers will enjoy more than I did. But I'm a guy with a soft spot for Christmas movies and Vince Vaughn, and it still didn't do much for me. Your mileage may vary, of course, and it's a passably entertaining holiday distraction, but Four Christmases is far from being a new holiday classic.



There is absolutely nothing on the Four Christmases DVD, not even a trailer.

previous post

Labels: ,

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home
A blog about movies, by a guy who probably watches too many.

April 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 / December 2009 / January 2010 / February 2010 / March 2010 / April 2010 / May 2010 / June 2010 / July 2010 /

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]