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Four Christmases

Released: 2008

Genre: Comedy

Runtime: 1 hr 28 min

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Seth Gordon

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Vince Vaughn, Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Jon Voight, Jon Favreau, Dwight Yoakam, Tim McGraw, Kristin Chenoweth

A young husband and wife rush to visit all their relatives on Christmas Day.

A good try at Christmas humour but somehow it is lacking true mirth and good cheer.

Review by: TimVoon

Added: 7 years ago

Christmas draws nigh again and on its tail is a trail of Hollywood movie offerings released to lighten the pockets of holiday viewers. I missed the release of FOUR CHRISTMASES last year, but it has arrived on DVD this year on Santa’s sleigh.

For some reason a lot of Christmas movies feature dysfunctional people in dysfunctional families, and somehow humor is derived from their misfortune, i.e. CHRISTMAS WITH THE CRANKS, DECK THE HALLS, SANTA CLAUS. FOUR CHRISTMASES is no different, it just has bigger name stars than in the other movies.

The premise of the story is that Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) are a happily, unmarried couple with no plans to marry or have children. They both like to go away for the Christmas holidays and avoid family gatherings because of their own personal family issues and problems. They will usually make some excuse that they are performing some humanitarian work so as to avoid the holiday season with their relatives, and scoot off to some exotic sunny location to laze in the Sun. That is until their plane flight to Fiji is cancelled by bad weather and they are caught red handed on news lying about their holiday plans. Therefore, they have to make an effort to visit their disgruntled relatives.

I can actually understand a situation like this, as some of us do have relatives we wished live on a different planet. However, this movie goes out of its way to make them as strange and outlandish as possible – in order to draw humor from the quirky situations that arise. Brad has pro-wrestling brothers who like to sit on and mangle him, his mother (Sissy Spacek) is married to his college best friend. Kate’s mother and sister are religious fanatics. The mother is sexually interested in the church pastor and her father has a live in girlfriend. Of course, the parents are all divorced – therefore, the title FOUR CHRISTMASES.

Maybe families as unusual as this do exist. After all most of us have skeletons in our family closet that we probably don’t want the world to know about. In this case, Brad and Kate realise that their perfect life is not so perfect when it comes to their families. And that they don’t really know each other as well as they had believed – and the skeletons come tumbling out of the stockings.

I did laugh in some hilarious scenes like when the installation of a radar dish goes wrong and the TV set goes up in flames and when Reese is trying to chase after her pregnancy test kit in a jumping castle filled with kids. However, a lot of the humour is contrived and the situations created are forced. I sensed as if the actors (Reese and Vince) were trying very hard to be funny in many of the scenes, when the best comedies come naturally with little effort from the actors. This is a good try at Christmas humour but somehow it is lacking true mirth and good cheer.