Four Christmases

We start out with two extremely likeable stars, Reese Witherspoon ("Penelope," "Sweet Home, Alabama" and "Legally Blonde") and Vince Vaughn ("Wedding Crashers," "The Breakup" and "Into the Wild") who depict Kate and Brad, a happily unmarried couple who have lived together for three years. Each holiday season they cook up some story to tell their families while they slip off to some tropical paradise.

This year is no different. They tell their families that they are going to Burma to do some charity work, but in reality they are going to Fiji to snorkel and bask in the sun. Problem is, San Francisco International Airport gets fogged in and no flights are going in or out. It causes a huge backup at the airport and television cameras catch our dismayed couple just after they are told they can't get away after all...and their families, all of whom live in the Bay area, see them in living color.

With their alibi gone, now they have to visit ALL of their divorced parents on Christmas Day:
  • Robert Duvall ("Open Range," "Secondhand Lions" and "The Godfather") is Brad's father, demanding and crass, with Jon Favreau and Tim McGraw playing his other two dimwitted sons. There is a $10.00 limit on gifts but Brad and Kate weren't told, so that causes major grief.
  • Mary Steenburgen ("Inland Empire," "Nobel Son" and "The Brave One") is Kate's born-again mother, who seems to be living in an all-female enclave but is visited regularly by her pastor, played by Dwight Yoakam. Brad and Kate get roped into playing the leads in a Christmas pageant.
  • Sissy Spacek ("Coal Miner's Daughter," "In the Bedroom" and "Blast From the Past") is Brad's mother, exploring her inner cougar via a hot new relationship with Brad's (former) best childhood friend.
  • Jon Voight ("An American Carol," "Pride and Glory" and "Transformers") is Kate's father, who has come to realize the importance of family and is now mending fences, particularly with Kate's mother.

This movie has a nice pace, maybe it's a little too slapstick and over-the-top, but it is laced with family-friendly moments where our two nice people must confront their own private demons. In my opinion, once we meet the families, those demons seem pretty inevitable. The movie is predictable, the actors are willing to extend themselves, and we are in capable hands, but it just seemed to me like if they had cut down on some of the "ick" factor (babies throwing up, Brad falling off a roof, horny old women), it would have been a little funnier....

By the way, the multi-talented Jon Favreau is a working actor, but directed one of 2008's blockbusters, "Iron Man." The guy named Jon Favreau who serves as Barack Obama's speechwriter is a different Jon Favreau.