Christmas movie’s characters too cliché

Brenna McNamara

I wanted to like “Four Christmases.” On paper, it seemed great. Holiday fun meets adult wit. The combination of Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn, plus Oscar-winning actors. The fun in the bore of forced family gatherings.

I’m not scroogy enough to brush a movie off on the basis that it’s cliché, family-oriented humor. I’m not mature enough to scoff Vaughn’s sometimes frat-boyish, antic humor. I’m not above Witherspoon’s cutesy chick-flick humor.

But all its credentials couldn’t meld to make the movie what it should have been. It wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t good either.

Real Quick:

Four Christmases

Starring Vince Vaughn,

Reese Witherspoon,

Jon Voight

Directed by Seth Gordon

Rated PG-13

Stater rating (out of five):

★★ 1/2

The downside: There was a huge contradiction between the somewhat bitter characters and family fun; the situations were far more than predictable, and the characters had no depth. The upside: It’s hard to expect a holiday feel-good movie to be deep. For what it’s worth, it was entertaining.

The film opens with Brad (Vaughn) approaching Kate (Witherspoon) at a bar. The snobby Kate reveals she’s a Wesleyan graduate from Connecticut, and says Brad doesn’t have the balls she wants in a man. He turns the tables, calls her a “bitch,” kisses her and takes her to the bathroom for some fun. They go home together, and it’s revealed they were role-playing.

Brad and Kate have been together for three years. The well-off, working San Francisco couple is perfectly fine where they are-not married, just in love and having fun. Their relationship makes other couples jealous. I’m not going to lie, it made me jealous. After three years, they still have so much zing: jumping on beds together, calling each other sweetheart and having amazing sex. But somehow it seemed a little unrealistic.

One of their fun activities is lying to their divorced sets of parents during the holidays, saying they are doing volunteer work in order to get out of holiday outings. Talk of the excuses they come up with is hilarious. But for their fourth Christmas together, they’re busted. In the airport, about to catch their flight to Fiji, they are on the news. Their families see and want them home for the holidays.

The rest of the movie is split into four parts, in which Kate and Brad hit the homes of each of the parents. First is Brad’s dad (Robert Duvall), a blue-collared simple man. Brad’s brothers are ex-cage fighters and provide some comedy with amateurish beat-ups on Brad. Next is Kate’s mom (Mary Steenburgen), a somewhat prissy, wealthy woman who takes every opportunity to expose Kate’s fat, Monica Gellerish-childhood. She takes the couple to her preacher boyfriend” church, which is one of the funniest parts of the movie. Then comes Brad’s hippish mom (Sissy Spacek) who is dating Brad’s childhood friend. This brings about the climax of the movie. Kate’s dad (Jon Voight) finally comes in to provide much of the sentiment the movie needed at the end.

Overall, the movie was semi-enjoyable, but it had potential to be more. Taken for what it is, I’d see it again.

Contact all reporter Brenna McNamara at [email protected].