Nowadays, any movie with a quirky premise or a funny character is labeled a comedy. Yet I haven’t seen many comedies in the movie theaters that were actually funny.
Last year, I said This Christmas was my new favorite Christmas movie to add to my collection. This year, I’m saying Four Christmases will be added to the collection, as well. Where This Christmas was good family fun, Four Christmases is good comedic fun.
In Four Christmases, Kate (Reese Witherspoon) and Brad (Vince Vaughn) are on their way to Fiji for Christmas vacation, but bad weather keeps them from going. So they decide to visit their families in their hometown of San Francisco. Both Brad and Kate have divorced parents, so they have to visit four different households to celebrate Christmas. The humor comes in the different situations in which Brad and Kate find themselves. Brad has to overcome his brothers’ bullying. Meanwhile, Kate has to overcome her family’s perception of her as a strict career woman.
Screenwriters Matt Allen, Caleb Wilson, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore wrote a screenplay that is funny and all about overcoming one’s fears. Going into the film, Brad and Kate seem like the perfect couple. But as the story unfolds, the audience finds two people who aren’t as perfect as they appear to be. Basically, the screenwriters set the characters up for failure, so they can learn lessons and become better people; which is a standard plot for most comedies.
Director Seth Gordon does a good job. I didn’t see any evidence that his directing is spectacular, save for the funniness of the entire film. Then again, Gordon did allow his characters to be themselves and didn’t let them become too predictable. That’s not to say that the film is full of surprises. It’s just not always going with the norm.
Vaughn is a hilarious actor. Four Christmases is in the same vein as Wedding Crashers and The Break-up. In these movies, Vaughn is good at playing the bumbling, leading man in a romantic comedy, without getting too sappy. He’s got machismo, but he’s not boorish. Maybe he’s that way on purpose because, at 6-foot-five, he’s so tall.
Witherspoon, like Vaughn, is perfect for her role. She’s good at playing the independent career woman, just like she did in Sweet Home Alabama. The dress she wears for most of the movie is stylish, and she has the cutest pair of black pumps I’ve seen in a while on screen. But that’s mainly attributed to costume designer Sophie Carbonell, rather than Witherspoon, who is charming and connects with me as a single, career woman wanting to live her life on her own terms.
Other actors of note are Jon Voight as Kate’s doting father, Sissy Spacek as Brad’s free-spirited, cradle-robbing, and sex-crazed mother; Robert Duvall as Brad’s paranoid father; Mary
Steenburgen as Kate’s cougar mother; Kristin Chenoweth as Kate’s baby factory sister; and Jon Favreau as one of Brad’s “Ultimate Fighting Challenge’’ fighter brothers.
Four Christmases has an Out of Towners feel to it, but it is more geared toward people in their thirties and twenties. It’s a true comedy at its core and deserves its number-one spot at the box office, because it’s good Christmas fun.