It’s Christmas Eve… Santa’s probably airborne (he usually gets an early start) and come Christmas morning, everyone should have something in their stocking. Now, if I were one of those “snippy” critics, I would reference here that those that worked on this movie shouldn’t expect Santa’s good graces.
Let me say from the start, that I have a fondness for Vince Vaughn. Truth-be-told, I didn’t like him in the beginning; not because he was a bad actor or anything, but because he seemed like a bit of a wise-guy. One of those guys that always had a witty come-back and who you’d wish would just be “normal” for once. But he’s someone that has really grown on me, and has turned into someone I look forward to seeing time and time again. If it weren’t for him, this movie would barely make a track! Four Christmas barely comes across with 5.
Here’s the “bear” bones-
Brad (Vince Vaugn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) look to be the modern version of the perfect couple; lovingly self-centered, but getting all that they want from their relationship (for now). Under the ruse of charity work, Brad and Kate escape the family obligations and the ensuing stress of the holidays by flying to Fiji; only to discover that the flight is cancelled due to heavy fog. To make matters worse, a tv reporter and camera shows up and exposes their failed getaway. Four Christmases in one day can be trying for anybody, but with Brad and Kate, the secrets, humiliations and the physical abuse might more than their relationship can handle.
When watching this movie, I kinda wished I had a lower I.Q. just for the fact that it would have boosted my enjoyment of it. While it certainly had its fun moments (which was inevitably caused by Vaughn’s comic leadership), and gave us the split family dynamic rather than just the one, crazy household, it sank on the basis of character.
Comedy works best when the laughs are allowed to well up from within the material, the situation, and/or the nature of the character. It isn’t a 10-year old child ,with his boney fist posed at your defenseless face, asking “What’s my name bitch?” that makes the scene funny- it’s the reaction of Vince Vaughn, who undoubtedly channels his emotions from the “near rape” scene from Wedding Crashers, and who’s pitched pleads of mercy are both hilarious and real. If it weren’t for Vaughn’s brilliance, that scene would have been completely wasted on me. The supporting cast, however, if not saved by or made funny by Vaughn, falls silent. Reese Witherspoon did a decent job, even though her wrestle-mania in the “jump jump cage” was a immature and needy.
Screen legends Sissy Spacek, Bobby Duvall and Jon Voight provided a bit more (name) weight to the film, but only propped up it’s status to a movie like, Meet the Fockers. One line from Duvall (who played Brad’s biological dad), was quite side-ripping though;
Boys, I don’t want to speak ill of your mother on Christmass, but she’s nothing but a common street whore.
I long for a Christmas movie that will take the place of my beloved National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but I’ve yet to find it. Vaughn could be my next Chevy, if only he had his Eddie… and Jon Favreau, you’re not him. Owen Wilson is a terrific comedic partner but we’ll just have to see what the future holds. For me, something like that would surely make my Christmas wish list!