The Family Stone

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Director: Thomas Bezucha
Writer: Thomas Bezucha
Producers: Michael London
Sarah Jessica Parker as Meredith
Dermot Mulroney as Everett
Diane Keaton as Sybil
One of the brothers in a big family is bringing his soon-to-be fiancé home for the Christmas holidays and is a little nervous because she’s a little uptight and hard-to-take at times, and his family members are…well, not so nice all the time. What follows is our cinematic trek through the holidays with a bigass family and all of their issues. Drinking ensues! (I’m talking about my holidays here)
A decent holiday flick which I don’t foresee becoming an annual Christmas classic, but certainly worth checking out, especially if you’re in the mood for some family loving, some family squabbling and Sarah Jessica Parker in a really tight…hair bun. Actually, the film does a good job of mixing things up with plenty of winter scenery, a nice cozy score and soundtrack, a couple of funny moments here and there, and plenty of dramatics as well. In fact, I was quite surprised to find that it was actually much more of a drama than a comedy, with a handful of potent emotional scenes spicing things up, including one in which Diane Keaton and her husband share a bed and more, and another involving an overdue conversation between Keaton and her son, the always-handsome Dermot Mulroney. The film’s other great strength was its cast, which was filled with “name actors”, all seemingly enjoying themselves in their respective parts, with Parker standing out the most as the stuck-up beeya, Rachel McAdams playing the mean beeya to a tee, Luke Wilson punching the clock very well as the easy-going slacker in the family and the great Craig T. Nelson coming through as the head of the household (Coach!!). But with grand casts come grand responsibilities, primary of which is to make sure that each of those characters is developed and means something to the audience. That’s a pretty hard task to accomplish in any film, but this one only lasted about 95 minutes, and seemed to focus a little too much on the Parker character.

That didn’t work for me so much, mainly because I couldn’t really appreciate the family’s point of view vis-à-vis the so-called tight-ass. It seemed to me like it was the family who were the ones who required a bit more manners, and not necessarily Parker’s character, who despite having definite foot-in-mouth disease, never seemed to consciously want to hurt anyone, while the family members, well…did! I also would have liked to have known more about the third sister, who wasn’t dealt with much, and I certainly could have done without the deaf, gay brother with a black boyfriend who together want to adopt a child. Pull it back a little, guys…most of the characters in the film were believable, but this dude had political agenda written all over him! That said, the film worked overall, with lots of family tiffs, personality clashes, holiday cheers and tears and even a damn chase around the house set to X-Mas music filling it up with decent entertainment value. Know this though, an underlying “sadness” permeates the entire movie, so don’t expect to walk out hootin’ and hollerin’…it’s more of a reflective flick, which is all fine and good around this time of year. Merry Christmas, everyone! – oh, and it was so nice to hear that phrase said over and over again in this movie…political correctness has gotten out of control!

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

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