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Four Christmases (2008)

His father, her mother, his mother and her father all in one day.

Starring:

Dwight Yoakam

Jon Favreau

Jon VoightJon Voight

Kristin Chenoweth

Mary Steenburgen

Reese WitherspoonReese Witherspoon

Robert DuvallRobert Duvall

Sissy Spacek

Tim McGraw

Vince Vaughn

Directed by:

Seth Gordon

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 88 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12A

Country: Germany, United States

Everyone has a Christmas movie that they watch every year, and really, it’s not a prerequisite that it be a great cinematic treasure. Four Christmases succeeds because it’s entertaining, pretty funny, and decidedly non-sappy, and though it’s a lot like watching a set of half-hour sitcoms with the same recurring characters and it’s absolutely predictable, some very talented people manage to make a movie you can enjoy more than once without putting too much thought into it.

Kate and Brad (Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn) are a successful and self-absorbed couple who do things like role play at nightclubs and take ballroom dancing lessons while smugly looking down their noses at family and friends who are “tied down” by the traditions of marriage and children. Unfortunately for them, their annual Christmas lie that keeps them clear of all familial obligations falls through this year, and as they’re forced to make the holiday rounds to all four branches of their divorced parents’ families, they each get a taste of just how nuts other peoples’ families can be.

If you’ve ever had to make it to more than one family gathering in one day, there’s probably something you can recognize in Four Christmases. Of course, these families are extreme (well, actually, maybe not …), and the film itself comes off as a series of inter-related skits highlighting each group’s quirks and horrors, but at a brisk 88-minute runtime, there’s not ever really any lag in action or humor. There’s a nice balance of slapstick, wit, and funny dialogue, and Vaughn and Witherspoon walk what could’ve been a difficult line and manage to be engaging and likeable. They have a lot of powerhouse support, what with parents like Jon Voight, Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, and Mary Steenburgen, and even though their moments are brief, each delivers and shows us just how these two got to be the odd little commitment-phobes they are. There’s a refreshing lack of sap, and even when Kate and Brad separate for what seems like ten seconds and we know they’ll be getting back together, it’s all just a bunch of fun. It was last year’s Christmas movie, and it’s a fun little movie to have on in the background during the holidays this year. No new ground broken, but solid comedic turns from its leads and supporting cast and enough funny bits to entertain make it worth at least a rental.

It's Got: Fantastic cast, funny moments, Dwight Yoakam as a preacher

It Needs: More for some of the supporting cast to do, DVD extras

DVD Extras None DVD Extras Rating: 0/10

Alternatives:

A Christmas Story, Couples Retreat, Home for the Holidays

Summary

Made a better film by a great cast, Four Christmases isn’t anything new, but it’s funny and it’s got at least one character that everyone can cringe in recognition at having in their extended family tree.

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