Four Christmases (7/10)
by Tony Medley
Run Time 82 minutes.
Who are the dumbest, most
incompetent people in the world? If you guessed the political media, you
are almost right; close, but no cigar. Without question the answer to my
question is those who make movie trailers. I had to sit through five
trailers this morning before I saw the feature. I went because I needed
a review and “Four Christmases” was the shortest. Having seen the
trailer, nothing rational could have dragged me within 2 miles of what
looked liked one of the biggest turkeys of the year.
But, to get back to the
five trailers I had to endure, I remember three of them; “Yes Man” with
Jim Carrey, “Marley and Me” with Jennifer Anniston and Owen Wilson, and
“Nothing Like the Holidays,” with a B-list cast. What all new trailers
do now is show, with very quick cuts, the entire story and all of the
gags someone thinks are funny. So my question is, why see the movie?
Give me trailers that say, “Gable’s Back and Garson’s Got ‘im.” That’s
all I need to know. I’m going. But when you see everything, why would
you want to see the movie, especially when you see all the gags? Even if
they were funny, which they weren’t in any of these, they won’t be when
I see the movie. Once you’ve seen the gag, there’s no surprise and it
loses most of the humor.
After seeing the film, I’m
convinced that “Four Christmases” has one of the worst trailers I’ve
ever seen. It seemingly does all of the above and the gags it shows
aren’t the least bit funny. They are awful.
So I wasn’t looking forward
to this, short as the running time is. The story line is that Brad
(Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) are living together without
the benefit of marriage. Their flight for their Christmas vacation is
cancelled so they are trapped having to visit both of their parents
(both of whom are divorced) for the holiday, all in one day. The trailer
showed them visiting Brad’s father, Howard (Robert Duvall), and those
scenes in the trailer looked ludicrous, to give them the best of it. In
the actual film, however, seen in context, the scenes are a lot more
entertaining than they appear in the trailer.
Vaughn and Witherspoon both
give exceptional performances, considering the rather loopy premise.
There are multiple screenwriting credits. The story credit is given to
Matt Allen and Caleb Wilson and they also have a screenwriting credit.
But so do John Lucas and Scott Moore, so Allen and Wilson’s script was
probably dumped and/or extensively rewritten by Lucas and Moore.
Whatever happened, director Seth Gordon made a pretty good story out of
it until the end. Short as it is, it would have been better if it had
ended 7 minutes sooner, because I really didn’t like the ending.
There is one huge factual
gaffe in the film that I can’t let go unmentioned. Kate’s mother,
Marilyn (Mary Steenburgen), is dating a Christian preacher, Pastor Phil
(Dwight Yoakum). They all go to a Nativity play put on by Pastor Phil.
But while the good Pastor is introducing the play, he refers to it as a
story of “the Immaculate Conception.” Obviously neither Pastor Phil nor
writers Allen, Wilson, Lucas, and Moore, nor director Gordon, nor any of
the actors or anybody else connected with these scenes knows anything
about Christian theology. The Immaculate Conception has nothing to do
with the Virgin Birth. The Immaculate Conception refers to the belief
that the Virgin Mary was herself conceived without the stain of Original
Despite that abysmal
display of ignorance, don’t be put off by the horrible trailer. This is
an entertaining movie.
November 28, 2008