Four Christmases

We all know the traditional holiday movie that comes out every year.  It will have a conflict between the protagonist, usually a person who doesn’t like the holidays and all that goes with it, and his/her family, consisting of members who are more quirky than annoying.  It will then go through the usual comedic antics before ending with the obligatory happy note, when the protagonist realizes they were all wrong and that a family Christmas is the best thing ever and people who don’t think so are obviously dysfunctional.

These movies realistically do two things:

1) give a false portrait of the holidays that reality never lives up to and

2) (and this is going to come off as harsh, but in the spirit of Christmas…) let the predominantly Christian masses feel that they are correct and anyone who thinks outside of this little box is just selfish.  

Well, this movie, like Bad Santa (although not as extreme), is for those of us who are selfish, and wrong, and unfeeling.  In other words, this is a Christmas movie for those who don’t buy into all the same things every year.

Four Christmases was directed by Seth Gordon, who is previously best known for the documentary The King of Kong.  It stars Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn as a happily unmarried couple trying to spend Christmas alone in Fiji.  When their flight is cancelled on live TV, they immediately receive phone calls from all four families (as both come from divorced homes), which gives them four different places to be on Christmas.  The rest of the movie, for the most part, revolves around their experiences that Christmas day, in which they find they do not know each other at all, and that their way of life, while not wrong, may need to be adjusted.

The greatest thing about Four Christmases is that it does away with all the sentimental manipulative B.S. that runs throughout most Christmas movies.  Their families are crazy, and one can completely understand why they would not want to visit.  It contains many funny supporting characters, played by the likes of Jon Favreau, Jon Voight, Robert Duvall, and Mary Steenburgen.

On the negative side, it kind of seemed like the end, while not horrible, was kind of…well…kind of like the studio took the film and forced a new ending on so people wouldn’t get TOO turned off by the film.  That is to say, while it didn’t have the lame ending prescribed to most Christmas films, it also didn’t go completely in the other direction either.  This may be a strong point to some, as it can be seen as a happy medium.  However, if its audience is people who do think outside the box, it should’ve gone a bit farther in that direction.  And if it wasn’t, it should just do the same song and dance we’ve seen a hundred times.  With where it’s at, it will probably succeed in being okay to all, and loved by none.  Hence, the very okay (yet leaning a bit more on the positive side) rating.  There are definitely worse things that you could watch this Christmas.

3 ½ / 5 stars

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