Directed by Seth Gordon
Starring Reese Witherspoon, Vince Vaughn, Robert Duvall, Jon Voight, Mary Steenburgen, & Jon Favreau
Christmas film review by Chris Olson
“You can’t spell families without lies...go ahead try it.”
This is one of the lines given to Vince Vaughn’s character, Brad, in the Christmas comedy film Four Christmases, and does a good job of summing up the movie’s overall theme.
Brad, and his girlfriend Kate (Reese Witherspoon), are a perfectly united couple at the beginning on the film, hoping to avoid their broken families during the festive season by vacationing in Fiji. However, an unfortunate bout of fog, and a nosy news camera crew, quickly undo their plans, meaning that a round robin trip to all four families becomes unavoidable.
As much as Brad and Kate feel anxious about visiting their parents (all of whom have new partners) and their quirky siblings, nothing prepares them for the tumultuous journey their own relationship takes, as their constant reliance on skirting the truth has been a foundation of their bond.
Seth Gordon’s film manages to highlight a very common situation for people at Christmas, which is having to cope with the expectations of their family, whilst trying to carve out their own slice of holiday bliss. Seeing the varying types of guilt trips and emotional pressure put on both Brad and Kate during the film, audiences will most definitely be able to relate to the struggle they are going through. However, there is a lovely turnabout during the movie, where we realise that both Brad and Kate are their own worst enemies by avoiding their families, which has consequently affected their adult relationships.
Both Vaughn and Witherspoon turn in great performances, anchoring the viewer to their relationship with the right balance of comedy and pathos. The supporting cast is made up of some heavyweight Hollywood stars, in particular Robert Duvall as the macho dad of Brad, who swills beer and taunts his son for being inadequate. Jon Favreau is also fantastic as a UFC-style fighter (yes, your heard me right), who, if not beating on Brad like a punching bag, is shamelessly feeling up his pregnant wife or chomping on chicken wings.
Aside from a few loose moments of generic plot-pushing, Gordon’s film is a tight blast of Christmas comedy, perfectly aimed at the modern audience. It captures the subtle balance between love and frustration that this time of year can cause, whilst telling a solid romance story which is relevant and fulfilling.