Posted by: Dr P | December 30, 2008

Four Christmases

The second of my one day filmathon which started very worryingly with The Day My Brain Stood Still proceeded into comedy mode with a trip to watch the festive offering Four Christmases.

Featuring the comic talents of Vince Vaughan as Brad and Reese Witherspoon as Kate, this movie centres on the happily non-married couple and their attempt to fob off their families and spend their holidays abroad. However, that plan backfires in spectacular fashion when the airport is fogbound and their families see them on the local news report.

As both their sets of parents are divorced, there are thus 4 separate places to visit on the day (and hence the movie title). Whilst in the real world, this might be an opportunity to get 4 lots of cake and chocolate, here the families are dysfunctional in the extreme. The first stop is to visit Brad’s father and brothers. Brilliantly played by Robert Duvall, the father is a real redneck type who eschews modern convenience and is less than impressed with the brand new satellite dish his son has brought him. We also meet Brad’s UFC fighting brothers and discover that all 3 siblings are named after the cities in which they are conceived!!! Hence we – and indeed Kate! – discover that Brad’s real name is actually Orlando! It’s at this point you really wish that the Beckhams hadn’t bothered with Brooklyn and had instead holidayed in Peckham.

This starts a trend in which the couple realise they actually know very little about each other, their real interests, their history and background or anything which might actually provide some grounding to their relationship. This provides a high degree of pathos and sadness to the movie, which still affords belly laughs a-plenty.

In a desperate attempt to erect the satellite dish, chaos ensues and half the house gets wrecked by flying cables. Worse still, Dad’s prize possession, his old telly, gets wrecked.

Christmas 2 is a visit to Kate’s mum, whose own particular new thing is that she has taken up with the local evangelist and drags the couple to the church where everyone is whipped into a frenzy by the aforementioned chap. The church is hosting a nativity play but are lacking a Mary and Joseph … so you can imagine who gets volunteered. Whilst Kate is known for having stage fright, Brad decides to completely take over, dancing and singing on stage and generally being hilarious to his partner’s shame.

Christmas 3 centres on Brad’s mother; the twist here is that she is now shacked up with Brad’s college best mate 20 years her junior. It’s hysterically funny watching the loathing on Brad’s face as his former friend talks about how sexual his mum is!!!

The pair are so annoyed with each other, the hidden secrets, and their own realisation that they want different things in life by this point that visit 4 just features Kate and her Dad, whilst Brad goes back to see his Dad to apologise for the earlier carnage.

It’s an enjoyable movie with plenty of feelgood moments and some sad parts too. You can’t help but be uplifted. Whist it doesn’t have the complete schmaltz of a “Love Actually” or the sheer cheesiness of a “Santa Clause”, this is a good Christmas film and well worth seeing if you like either – or both – of the main leads. They are terrific, with good comic timing and each display a wide range of acting talents, both serious and silly. Highly recommended!

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