Four Christmases - Review
Family plus Christmas equals nightmare. That seems to be the calculation guiding this festive frolic, in which Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon tell their respective folks they’re doing charity work so that they can avoid the usual get-together. Alas, their ruse is uncovered, so they end up visiting all four post-divorce enclaves in one fateful Christmas Day.
Playing out a seasonal riff on the same comedy of embarrassment as ‘Meet the Parents’, Vaughn’s mean old coot of a pater Robert Duvall and wrestling-freak sibling Jon Favreau, along with Mary Steenburgen as Witherspoon’s lubricious yet church-happy mom, supply plentiful warning of the dangers of procreation. As we grind through the gears of consecutive drop-ins, however, behind the strained knockabout lurks a none-too-subtle conformist agenda, assuring the unmarried, childless couple that their only chance for genuine happiness is to get with the family programme.
‘Humbug!’, we say. Dismaying, indeed, that a movie purportedly selling itself on refreshing nay-saying scepticism should so cravenly succumb to the same old schmaltz, without the craft even to make the process seem anything other than a series of empty would-be ‘feelgood’ platitudes. Still, there are occasional felicities en route, with some ably delivered ‘trailer moment’ slapstick – watch out for that baby vomit! – and the cast do their best with the uneven material, even if Vaughn in particular makes the patter a tad too effortful. Nostalgic for some to have him and Favreau reunited here, yet seeing the ‘Swingers’ duo desperately mugging away in such mainstream mulch, their catchphrase ‘You’re so money’ takes on an awful new resonance.