New Line Cinema
Opens on 26 November
I was excited about seeing “Four Christmases,” directed by Seth Gordon and starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon. Not only because I love Christmas movies but because I’ve been celebrating two Christmases since the age of five and three since the age of 15. Finally a movie for people like me!
The film opens with Daphne (Witherspoon) and Kent (Vaughn) at a bar in what seems to be downtown Manhattan. Kent strikes up a cordial yet dull conversation with Daphne, Daphne rolls her eyes and tells Kent she’s heard it all before. In college she would have dated a nice guy like Kent, but now wants a little more excitement in her life. Then, Kent, whipping off his glasses, calls her things like “bitch” and they do it in the bathroom.
We find out this was just a lover’s game between Brad (Vaughn) and Kate (WItherspoon) – a couple that seems completely perfect. They take ballroom dancing classes, enjoy couples massages, and never argue. They both come from divorced parents, and credit their relationship bliss to being unlike their own messed up families. They’ve never visited their families for the holidays. Instead they go on vacation (this year to Fiji) and tell their loved ones that they’re off de-worming orphans in Somalia.
But as the pair arrive at the airport in San Francisco, they discover all flights are canceled due to extreme fog. Ambushed by a local TV reporter, Brad and Kate are found out and give in to visiting home for the holidays. To Brad and Kate’s credit they do have some wacky (and weirdly violent in Brad’s case) relatives. But in visiting their family they learn more about each other. Brad’s real name is Orlando (named after the city where he was conceived) and Kate used to be dorky and fat (and maybe had some lesbian tendencies?). Vaughn does his usual talk-what-I’m-feeling routine and is, as per usual, hilarious. He seriously outshines Witherspoon but the writing seems to be more at fault for that. Instead of funny she gets whiny or angry. There’s also something incredibly hypnotizing and wildly distracting about her hair…perhaps it’s a wig?
In the end I wish the movie had been a wee bit more Christmas-y (not enough carols in the score) and a bit less Vaughn-centric. He’s certainly funny but shouldn’t be expected to carry a whole movie.