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December 3, 2008 > Movie Review: Four Christmases

Movie Review: Four Christmases

By Amelia M. Anderson

Four Christmases, directed by Seth Gordon, is a funny and familiar holiday comedy that pokes fun at the honest problems families face during the holidays.

Visiting both of their divorced parents on Christmas Day, Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) drive to four families' homes for a holiday that reminds both of them of reasons why they avoid their families.

Like a Christmas Carol, Witherspoon and Vaughn get a glimpse of their past, present, and even take a moment to rethink their future paths, thanks to their families.

The embarrassing childhoods Vaughn and Witherspoon's characters try to hide from each other make the film easy to relate to.

Although the film's length attempts to fool the viewers into feeling the long day along with the characters, 82-minutes running time may feel a bit too long for some viewers.

As a close couple, Vaugh and Witherspoon's characters do everything together, including dancing, lying and reluctantly visiting their families for Christmas.

Witherspoon cannot disappoint audiences as she plays a believable put-together woman, who knows what she wants from life until she sees screaming babies and bratty children everywhere. Ironically enough, this gets her maternal clock ticking.

Vaughn is humorous, but mature compared to his other movie roles. His affection with Witherspoon's character plays well, but Vaughn's humor-seeking fans may prefer his zanier characters in his previous films.

Playing the typical overbearing and weird relatives, Robert Duvall, Jon Favreau, Mary Steenburgen and Sissy Spacek add to the fun, or trivialities of this holiday film.

Duvall plays the tough, could-care-less father figure of Vaughn, which is interestingly funny and annoying at the same time.

Sissy Spacek takes the role of Vaughn's loving mother, whose relationship with her son is not special enough to stop dating Vaughn's childhood best friend.

Less-realistic issues kill some realism of the movie. Vaughn's brothers are excessively violent; each member from each family seems crazed; and Witherspoon's future goals have a speedy flip in one day.

Mixed feelings of empathy and judgement for Vaughn and Witherspoon's characters create a confused message for the ending of this film. Should viewers feel guilty or justified for avoiding quality familial time?

The movie definitely evokes that Christmas feel with its peppy, re-mixed classical Christmas songs following the typical joys and stresses we all come to expect during the holidays.

Although Four Christmases is worth a one-time look, some viewers may be disappointed, hoping for more laughs. However, relating to the typical family issues that come with the season, this movie can put a merry perspective on a sometimes stressful holiday.

Rated PG-13
Running Time: 82 minutes

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