moviebuff801: Time Capsule Reviews: Four Christmases (2008)

Posted: December 7, 2012 by moviebuff801 in moviebuff801's Movie Reviews, Time Capsule Reviews

Release Date: November 26th, 2008

Running Time: 1 hour and 28 minutes

Written by: Matt Allen, Caleb Wilson, Scott Moore, Jon Lucas

Directed by: Seth Gordon

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Jon Favreau, Robert Duvall

Dear Santa,

Why is it that no one seems to know how to make a good Christmas movie anymore? The last holiday film that I truly loved was Love Actually, which was released back in 2003. Since then, there have been a few that I liked (The Family Stone and Fred Claus), but being who you are, I think you have the right to protest this slew of lame and awful holiday-themed comedies or at the very least leave giant lumps of coal in the stockings of all these producers. It’s movies like Four Christmases that demonstrate how little Hollywood knows about making good Christmas movies.

Instead of incorporating good and witty humor into their storylines, much like what I know has to be one of your personal favorites, The Santa Clause, producers these days seem to think audiences won’t come to see Christmas movies unless they’re filled with dumb slapstick humor (not the funny kind like in Home Alone) and bathroom humor. Four Christmases is filled with that stuff.  It has a baby vomiting on a person on more than one occasion, a little girl inadvertently sticking a pregnancy test in her mouth after it’s been used and a man being pummeled by his UFC-trained “cage” wrestling brothers. By now, Santa, you’re probably rubbing your forehead in frustration, and I share the sentiment. Obviously, you know that Christmas is better than a bad joke that falls flat on its face in almost every scene.  With movies like Four Christmases, the good name of Christmas is getting dragged through the melted snow, and I think you should finally take action.

The movie stars Vince Vaughn (you know, that guy you almost had sued back in 2007 for using your brother’s name in a movie without your permission) and Reese Witherspoon. Their characters’ names are Brad and Kate, and they are an unmarried couple who are very content that way. Every year at Christmas, they create some elaborate, diabolical minefield of lies to get them out of actually spending time with their families so that they can take vacations to various tropical locations. If you actually delivered coal to adults, this pair would have enough to run their fireplace all year. Each of Brad and Kate’s parents is divorced, so when their holiday trip to Fiji gets canceled due to major fog, they have no choice but to make the rounds to all four parental figures, hence the title Four Christmases. And, Santa, if you’re wondering why Brad and Kate couldn’t just invite everyone over to their house and avoid any hassle, the answer is simply because then there wouldn’t be setups for different “fun” gags at each residence.

The parents are portrayed by Robert Duvall, Mary Steenburgen, Sissy Spacek and Jon Voight, and visited in that order. What follows is a series of failed gags involving Vince Vaughn getting beat up and thrown around, and Reese Witherspoon being spit up on by babies and being attacked by children in a Moonbounce. Man, do I wish you could have come in and worked on this script!  Sure, maybe a handful of one-liners kind of work, but the rest are the equivalents of stale cookies.

So, I put together a short list for you of suggestions for fixing this and all future potential bad Hollywood Christmas scripts:

1. Jokes that are actually funny. The jokes in this movie, especially, stink worse than expired eggnog, in particular the ones involving breast-feeding and baby vomit. This brings me to the next suggestion.

2. No babies vomiting, projectile vomiting, peeing on people or excreting any other bodily fluid while a character is within the target area. Putting stuff like that into a movie clearly shows how desperate you’re becoming, and you don’t want that to taint your image.  Plus, giving the excuse of “Oh, it’s Christmas!” doesn’t make it any better.

3. No characters who act like preening idiots or who have disgusting egos.  Okay, so there’s Scrooge, but these people make him look like a Saint.

4. Have charm, instead of cynicism.  Of course, if your lead actor is Vince Vaughn…

5. And finally, if you’re gonna have such refined actors in the roles of parents, make sure you actually give them something to do besides reading off perfunctory dialogue specifically written to cut down the actors playing their children. Otherwise, it’s all too clear that they’re in the movie just to dupe their own longtime fans into being robbed of their time and money.

I hope these are helpful suggestions and that I have successfully put you on alert for future bad Christmas movies. Oh, and this year, you can skip the houses of the four, count ‘em, four, writers who penned this screenplay.  Not that you haven’t been doing that since this movie came out, and I don’t want to presume to tell you how to do your job, but this is more for my peace of mind.

I keep hoping that by some Christmas miracle, more thought will be put into holiday-themed movies, but it’s movies like Four Christmases that continually dash them through the snow, laughing at me all the way. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one.  Just one more question, though: are there any plans to progress to something worse than coal in stockings?  Perhaps, say, lumps of something more unpleasant?

Sincerely,

Moviebuff

*/****

Comments
  1. Hunter says:

    I haven’t seen this film, but I share your sentiment. That was a hilarious review. I loved Love Actually, that was a great Christmas movie. Christmas movies are really hard to do (or so it seems based on how few there actually are). They really mastered that back in the 40s.

  2. ckckred says:

    Yeah, it was terrible.

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