An upwardly mobile urban couple who live for the moment and themselves have to face Christmas with the relatives. Sound familiar? It should, it is the plot-line from dozens of comedies and dramas over the years. The fact that we are in very familiar territory is not the issue, this is Christmas time and we like movies about going home for the holidays … don’t we? Judging by the box office takings of this little film, the answer is, yes.
Now that we have the issue of originality out of the way, what is this film actually like? It is a fun Drama/comedy about discovering who we really are and what is really important in life to you.
Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn play the couple in this bitter/sweet Christmas drama, yes I said drama that has some very funny moments. They are a self centered, self obsessed couple who regularly lie to their respective families so they can get out the holidays. This year they are caught out on their lie by some unfortunately timed fog and they are forced to visit their families for Christmas. The trouble is, they both come from broken homes so they have to visit all four parents separately. On a side note, Australian distributors have made a huge mistake changing the title of this film, the original US title, Four Christmases, suits the film so much better.
This is a film that has been heavily marketed as a comedy, I think this is a little off kilter as the film really is a drama that happens to have a lot of humorous moments. This is a plus to the film as it allows us to get a little feeling into the proceedings and Reese handles this well, you can see the day building on her and the realisation that her life is missing something. Vince doesn’t fare so well, unfortunately. He is basically playing the same character he played in Wedding Crashers and Dodgeball, which in those films worked so well, here he feels shallow and a little out of place. Ultimately, by the films end, we have seen Reese’s character grow but Vince’s character arc is not entirely believable.
The support cast is excellent, particularly Jon Favreau as Vince’s brother. He has taken a little time away from his directing career (he made Iron Man) to play this truly horrid redneck, tailer trash character. He is a joy. Also interesting is the choice of casting a veteran actor in the role of each parent. Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Robert Duvall and Jon Voight all look like they are having a great time in this film.
When all is said and done, Four Holidays, is a fun film that is entertaining but nothing really special. It is a good way to pass some time and get a nice warm holiday glow. However, I do have to say that this film is perfectly suited to DVD and I am not really sure I would recommend it as a full priced movie ticket.