Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Christmarathon Day 15: Four Christmases
It was a loathsome film about loathsome characters being loathsome to each other. It was mean spirited, poorly written, ill-thought out, and pathetically acted by an otherwise amazing cast of actors who should've known better. In case you couldn't tell from the subtle intro to this review, I didn't care for it very much.
The movie opens on Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon being horrible and mean to one another, which is later shown to be some sort of weird role/foreplay they engage in before going back to their incredible apartment in San Francisco. They then have an awkward, unbelievable conversation establishing how they never want to get married or have kids, and how they avoid their extended families every year by making up elaborate excuses about how they travel to Africa to help the poor, but in reality just go to the Tropics. When a thick fog comes in delaying all flights out of the city until the next day, they are forced to spend the rest of the day visiting the four different households of each one's divorced parents. This is all in the first ten minutes of the movie.
When we meet each household, we quickly learn why our two stars are so thoroughly unlikable: Because they came from families that are thoroughly detestable. In the first family set piece, Jon Favreau and Tim McGraw (??) play mixed martial arts fighters who spend the entire scene torturing their brother Vince Vaughn. They hit him, berate him, and put him into various arm bars and leg locks. It's a terrible scene that isn't even remotely funny, since it's just abusive and uncomfortable. Why they stayed in the house after that was beyond me, since the minute somebody starts to put you and your girlfriend in harm's way is the time to leave. It's no wonder he avoided Christmas with his family for so long. They are sadists.
Then we go to Reese Witherspoon's mother's house, where everybody is as emotionally abusive to her as Vaughn's family was physically abusive to him. And so it goes with each visit to the titular four christmases, until there is some forced resolution where they both decide that (SPOILERS!) they do love each other enough to build their own family together. This made no sense to me and felt incredibly forced, since the familial horrors they are witness to in this film would make any person swear off having children or getting married forever.
All of this happens in one day, by the way, which makes me question the physics involved in this film. One house is in the forest, another is on a mountain, and the others are in some suburb. How did they fit all of these activities in four different locations into one day? Oh, and that fog that grounded their plane is never seen again after the opening scene. Why was this movie so awful? How did the writers and director end up with a film that was so dismal and mean-spirited and downright unfunny? And how did so many Oscar-Winning actors like Robert Duval, Sissy Spacek, John Voight, and Mary Steenbergen get roped into it?
The only redeeming features of this film were maybe one or two funny lines of dialogue by Vince Vaughn and the fact that Reese Witherspoon is really cute. She seemed as uncomfortable to be appearing in this movie as I felt watching it, however, and there was absolutely zero chemistry between the two leads. At the end, when they finally decide to have a family together, I couldn't have cared less about these two characters or their future plans together. They were every bit as loathsome as their family members and as loathsome as the film itself.
Yeah, I didn't like it.