FOUR CHRISTMASES: Too Little Too Late
FOUR CHRISTMASES (comedy)
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall, Jon Favreau, Tim McGraw, Mary Steenburgen, Kristen Chenoweth, Sissy Spacek, Jon Voight
Director: Seth Gordon
Time: 82 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL: The big deal is that Christmas is over and 'Four Christmases' opens late! The holiday mood is wearing thin when the film opens in Malaysia on New Year's Day. And to make things worse, this particularly American Christmas film is not funny enough to hold local audiences.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Each Christmas San Francisco couple Kate and Brad (Witherspoon and Vaughn, pictured above) invent an exotic charity project as cover for a tropical vacation so as to avoid spending the Yuletide with their parents. This year, their planned escape is foiled by a massive fog, and with a day to spend waiting for the fog to lift, they are forced to divide the time visiting their four sets of divorced parents.
The first visit takes Kate into the rednecky testosterone-filled home of Brad's father (Robert Duvall) and brothers, Denver (Jon Favreau) and Dallas (Tim McGraw). This is where a woman's role is to be kept barefoot and pregnant. Next, they visit Kate's 'pious' mother (Mary Steenburgen) and sister (Kristen Chenoweth). This is followed by a visit to Brad's cradle-robbing mom (Sissy Spacek) then to Kate's dad (Jon Voight). By the time they do their "fourth Christmas," the couple's relationship is in tatters and in dire need of mending.
HITS AND MISSES: Basically, this is a case of too many cooks or rather four script-writers who seem to take the comedy their own way. Yes, the comedy is uneven and with each scripter probably doing one of the 'Christmases', we have a few pieces that do not fit into the plot puzzle. Instead of being gradually developed as characters we may like, Brad and Kate remain comic caricatures. And Vaughn and Witherspoon have other 'compatibility' problems besides their huge difference in height. They lack chemistry, and Witherspoon, who takes on an uneven persona here, seems miscast. The other big names like Voight, Steenburgen and Duvall, however, help to give the movie some distraction and even sparkle.
THE LOWDOWN: It's not a turkey, but it's no bright star, either.