Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Four Christmases

The holiday movie season has begun. This means two things – 1: it’s Oscar season so we’ll get Oscar-bait, 2: we are going to be bombarded with holiday themed movies. Four Christmases is not Oscar-bait but one of the standard Christmas fare that comes out between Thanksgiving and New Years; movies that are typically cheapish to make, star cute actors and are designed to capitalize on the few brief weeks of holiday cheer. Most holiday movies are not really that good like Surviving Christmas (which I dare you to remember who stars in that one without using IMDB) or Jingle All the Way there are always exceptions to that rule – movies like Elf, Christmas Vacation and Scrooged are among a few of my most enjoyed comedies and they are Christmas films. Four Christmases is not a great Christmas movie, but it is a lot better than you would expect it to be.

If you’ve seen the trailer for Four Christmases you can guess every plot point in the film – Brad & Kate can’t stand their families and would rather be anywhere else for the holidays. As a result they make an elaborate lie every holiday season that gets them out of going while they sneak off to an exotic destination and relax in peace, the hitch is that their flight gets canceled and they get caught at the airport by a live TV broadcast which all t heir relatives see so they are roped into seeing everyone they were trying to avoid.

Four Christmases suffers because the plot hinges on fog – literally; fog grounds their plane and though it obviously burns off they couple continues to make the rounds with their relatives. If you think too hard about the monologues delivered by both Brad and Kate at the beginning of the film you will realize that actually sticking with their copout and visiting their families once the fog lifts seems really out of character; they are painted as two people that wouldn’t care enough to keep up the charade with as miserable a time as they are having.

However, the reason that the film overcomes this fault is the unexpected chemistry between Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon. As Brad and Kate they are an adorable couple and stand so far apart from their families that you do see them as aliens in a foreign land when they are forced to interact. To the tribute of the screenwriter the situations they are put in are believable enough that you can empathize with them – not because Brad’s brother is a UFC fighter who wants to beat him up but because we all have that embarrassing relation that we love but cannot understand no matter how hard we try.

While most of you will just shrug this off to my obsession with Iron Man, my absolute favorite character was Brad’s brother Denver played by Jon Favreau. I have been a fan of Favreau’s since I first saw Swingers and I have to say that seeing him muscled, tattooed and with a mohawk was a memorable experience. Knowing that he and Vaughn have a great friendship (hence the supporting role in Vaughn’s picture) also makes the relationship between Denver and Brad funnier to me.

Four Christmases is not one of the best holiday movies I have ever seen, but it is funny, fresh and genuine. All things considered it’ll probably be one of the better Christmas movies this season.

Director: Seth Gordon
Writers: Matt Allen, Caleb Wilson, John Lucas & Scott Moore
Brad: Vince Vaughn
Kate: Reese Witherspoon
Howard: Robert Duvall
Paula: Sissy Spacek
Creighton: Jon Voight
Denver: Jon Favreau
Marilyn: Mary Steenburgen
Pastor Phil: Dwight Yoakam
Dallas: Tim McGraw
Courtney: Kristin Chenoweth

1 comment:

Stefanie said...

Still want to see this one.