All-star cast doesn’t save ‘The Family Stone’

Robert Taylor

A kitchen disaster leads to laughter for Amy, played by Rachel McAdams, Sybil, played by Diane Keaton, and Meredith, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, in The Family Stone.

Credit: Ben Breier


The Family Stone

Starring Craig T. Nelson, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Sarah Jessica Parker

Written and directed by Thomas Bezucha Released by 20th Century Fox

Stater rating (out of four): *


The problem with The Family Stone is that it does not know what kind of movie it wants to be. First, it tries to be a teary character piece before morphing into a horrible soap opera. Then it decides to become a quirky family sitcom before finally ending on a note so syrupy it might have turned me off candy for a month.

The Stone family, headed by Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson, is getting ready to celebrate Christmas. But they are less than happy about their prized son Everett (Dermot Mulroney) bringing home his serious girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker). Everett wants his mother’s engagement ring, but his mother does not want to hand it over.

Keaton and Nelson’s other children are Rachel McAdams as the bratty know-it-all, Luke Wilson as the constantly high weirdo, Tyrone Giordano as the hearing impared, gay brother and Elizabeth Reaser as the pregnant sister with a husband nowhere to be seen.

The first quarter is completely devoid of any life or emotion. All the actors (with the possible exception of McAdams, who seems to be relishing the chance to play a bitch again) wander through their scenes acting like something important is going on and treating Parker like a piece of trash for no particular reason.

The second act gives them, and the viewers, a reason to dislike Parker, though. This is when The Family Stone turns into a soap opera. Parker has begged her sister (Claire Danes) to come support her, and after she arrives, the family gathers at the dinner table for Christmas Eve dinner.

The scene starts off cute enough, with Parker making quirky mistakes, but then the movie turns nasty. Parker insults gay people to the extreme for no particular reason, insults the black man at the table and then storms out of the house.

Then, suddenly, the movie becomes a sitcom. Wilson chases after Parker and gets her drunk at a bar (apparently the whole insulting gay people thing was supposed to be forgiven by Parker later shouting “Go gays!” while intoxicated) and they (maybe) sleep together. While she is pre-engaged to his brother. Seriously.

The family meets again for Christmas breakfast the next morning. Parker returns without even apologizing for her behavior the night before, and suddenly the family treats her like one of their own, apparently forgetting her bigotry.

Then, before you know it, people are chasing each other around, laughing, joking and spilling some sort of breakfast omelet all over the floor (you’ve all seen the scene in the commercials). Everything is solved in less than 20 minutes by having the movie surrender to every holiday movie cliche in the book. Then there is the epilogue, which I wouldn’t dream of revealing because it is so bad, so inane, so safe your jaw will drop.

Sadly, though the movie held some promise, it screwed every single facet of the production up so bad that it is destined to go down in history as one of the worst holiday movies ever, right down there with Santa Claus Conquers the Aliens and A Very Brady Christmas.

Contact ALL correspondent Robert Taylor at [email protected].