Previous Review
Next Review
December 2, 2009
Review - " Four Christmases " - (on DVD) By Roland Hansen
the news, they are forced to spend Christmas with all four of their families, at the four different households of their respective
parents. And from that point forward the film plays out as a fairly formulaic story filled with calamity after calamity at each
household, as Brad and Kate learn more about each other and must decide whether they are happy with each other and the
way things are, or if things should change between them.

Holiday comedies are basically a pass/fail situation; almost no movie produced exclusively for people who are already at the
mall and feeling seasonally inclined from hearing the Muzak version of "Santa Baby" 18 times is going to be an opus of
hilarity. Holiday movies can, however, be really bad (or at least really mediocre), so it's not like there's nothing to strive for in
the genre. Lucky for Four Christmases, it passes - not with flying colors, but not by the skin of its teeth either. It's well acted
and it's entertaining, and who can resist a movie where Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau are brothers, and Robert Duvall is
their dad?

It probably helps that the premise is fairly unique. Happy couple Brad and Kate have a great relationship, full of enjoyed
mutual activities like ballroom dance classes and sexual role play. Like a lot of young people, they're long past admitting that
their respective families are a zillion kinds of crazy, so every year the two orchestrate an alibi, drop gifts in the mail, and
hightail it out of town for Christmas. Unfortunately, this particular year turns out a little differently when their airline gets
grounded by fog on the morning of their departure - an event that would only minorly change their plans, if it weren't for the
local news anchor broadcasting live from the airport who catches Brad and Kate in the camera's crosshairs and effectively
announces to their families that they'll be very much stuck in town for the holiday. So now, with no excuse to get them out of
it, they have to visit all four homes of their collective parents in one day.

Each household is a different breed of funny/crazy/terrifying, starting with Brad's father, a grumbling old blue-collar retiree
played by Robert Duvall. This stop consists of streaking redneck children, dad insisting he can install his own satellite dish,
and continued attacks by Brad's amateur UFC brothers (Jon Favreau and Tim McGraw). Next it's off to Kate's mom's house,
a WASPish, doily-covered suburban home full of catty passive-aggression and cougary repressed flirtatious outbursts
(mostly toward Brad, since all other men in the house have been long since broken). Kate's mom (Mary Steenburgen) has
recently discovered religion, which is to say she's dating Pastor Phil, a reverend/local celebrity from the neighborhood
Pentecostal rock-concert-style revival church, and this creates an extra dose of weirdness for the couple, when she drags
them to mass.

So then Brad and Kate visit the next parent on the list, then the next - you get the idea. It's a cleverly written movie, and
outside the awesomely gross vomit gags and just-painful-enough-looking slapstick, there's always the underlying feeling that
what you're seeing is eerily familiar. These are people you've been stuck with at parties or meals, trying desperately to avoid
talking about politics, money, or any other disastrously substantive topic; the trashy ones who serve food you don't want to
touch, the backbiting ones who talk smack about your marital status, the super normal ones who wait years to throw an
awkwardness curveball at you by suddenly getting way, way into religion. It's spot-on "funny because it's true" humor, which
may not be a particularly genius page out of the comedy playbook, but after a day of unwrapping presents with people who
share your DNA - and sap your will to live - it doesn't have to be.
For comments or to submit a movie review for possible inclusion on Delta Films site
please send an email to
Four Christmases
Directed by: Seth Gordon
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall,
Sissy Spacek, Jon Voight, Jon Favreau, Mary Steenburgen

Unless you're one those rare, extremely fortunate people with
a flawless family that behaves impeccably on every social
occasion, almost everyone else can relate to the inevitable
craziness that results when relatives get together for the
holidays. After all, for every seemingly "normal" family
member, there's always an eccentric Aunt Mildred who
believes a pink bunny suit is an appropriate gift for a nine-
year-old boy (see A Christmas Story). Or the slightly tipsy
uncle who manages to ask about a singleton's non-existent
love life at exactly the wrong moment—not that there's ever a
right one (see Bridget Jones's Diary). Or the brother who
takes poloroids of you while your naked in the shower (see
Home for the Holidays). And while yuletide flicks like Home
Alone, The Family Stone, Fred Claus and even Elf have all
covered this well-tread territory to varying degrees of
success in the past, there's always room for four more
dysfunctional families around Christmas, right?

The story centers on long time couple Brad and Kate (played
by Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon) a happy, if
shallow couple, they are getting ready to hop on a plane for
a vacation to Fiji. Brad and Kate aren’t married, and that’s
the way they like it. They’ve both come from broken homes,
and care not to complicate their relationship by putting a
permanent tag on it. They also care not to ever see their
respective families again, especially around the holidays.
Instead, every Christmas they go on a vacation, leading their
families to believe they are off doing something noble, like
inoculating babies in Burma. When all flights out are
cancelled due to weather, and Brad and Kate are seen on