December 12, 2008

Movie Review: Four Christmases

Once Thanksgiving rolls around, I can pretty easily be convinced to see anything with the words Holiday or Christmas in the title. But even beyond that, I’d really been looking forward to this one – the preview, where Vince Vaughn starts gagging after seeing a baby spit up, had me laughing embarrassingly loudly each time I saw it. And, it must be said that I love Reese Witherspoon. Here’s where the “buts” start – I love her, but she did nothing in this movie except look pointy.

'Four Christmases' starts with a couple (Vince Vaughn & Reese Witherspoon) roleplaying in a bar, followed by a quickie in the bathroom. This scene, and the ensuing 15 minutes are designed to be evidence of what a happy, well-adjusted, well-matched pair they are: They take dance lessons, and not for their wedding! In fact, they don’t even want to get married! Or have children! They’re just so independent and on the same page. This part of the movie was entertaining enough. Witherspoon and Vaughn are charismatic, funny actors, with good chemistry.

But once they jump into their SUV and start shuttling around California from one dysfunctional family to another, the movie just got boring. Mary Steenburgen, Robert Duvall, Kristen Chenoweth and even Jon Favreau were completely wasted in their roles – and Jon Voight didn’t show up until the final 20 minutes. It's clear there was more story to all of these characters, but no attempt was made to expose it. This made the couple pretty hard to relate to, since we just had to accept that they hate each member of their family. Even the scene in the evangelical church - typically a T-Ball pitch for hilarity - fell flat.

I think there were a lot of good ideas in this movie – but very few of them lived up to their promise. This one will pretty easily go the way of ‘Movies I Forget I’ve Seen’. 5.5 Twix bars!