Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
The cover for Four Christmases is pretty standard for a romantic comedy. We get Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn standing back to back, wrapped in a Christmas bow. Not overly original, but not horrible either. I think I am just becoming numb to the whole “lets show just the two love interest stars on the cover and nothing else” mentality of the studios. A bit more creativity might be nice, but nobody would want to rock the boat. We almost just expect this now.
The menu is another static background shot, with choices over it. Again, it is not the conventional menu, as the movie starts up automatically.
- Seven Layer Holiday Meals In A Flash – This interesting feature has Paula Dean, and Katy Mixon (in character) making some holiday seven layer meal. It is funny, and different, and Mixon is hysterical in character.
- Holiday Moments – Holiday Moments is a kind of behind the scenes extra that is standard fare and not overly exciting.
- Gag Reel – The gag reel was not really all that funny, or long. There were a few gems, like seeing Vince Vaughn lose it take after take while Jon Favreau makes him laugh. Overall not a great gag reel.
- BDLive – More scenes and choices are available through the BD Live.
- Digital Copy – We of course get the digital copy of the movie for your on-the-go viewing. This is somewhat of a standard feature for Blu-ray, and the only time I really pay too much attention is when the Blu-ray does not come with a digital copy. This one does.
The Movie: 5/10
Four Christmases is a holiday movie that is absolutely great sounding on paper, but the follow through is just a little short of what I would have expected. This Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon jaunt is set around Christmas, and Brad and Kate (their characters) are a self absorbed couple who refuse to get married or further define their relationship, and they choose to escape to far away places instead of spend the holidays with their families. The couple make up lies about helping the poor on other continents, when they instead just take vacations to island resorts. All the while, they avoid their families and the craziness that is Christmas.
Everything looks good as they run to the airport (in San Francisco) in full island gear, to hop on their plane, when a heavy fog rolls in. Of course they are unable to fly out, and when a local television channel interviews the couple live on air, their ruse is up. Of course this means that they will be forced to visit their respective families, and since they both come from divorced parents, that means not one, but four Christmases.
Each parent is a separate ordeal, and the couple slowly learns that they perhaps do not not everything that they thought they did about the other person, and their seemingly happy-go-lucky relationship takes a severe blow as the torture of the four family get together mounts.
Brad’s father is Howard (Robert Duvall) who is a working class, cranky gentleman who is probably the funniest character in the movie. He is surprised to see Brad, who is basically attacked by his brothers who are cage fighting , alpha males who love to drop Brad to his knees with wrestling moves (played by Jon Favreau and Tim McGraw). The gifts that Brad and Kate bring are no within the price limit the family normally budgets, and therefore the two are forced to deal with the awkwardness of being accused of trying to show off.
Kate’s mother Marilyn is the next stop, and she is played by Mary Steenburgen, who is now seeing a pastor at her church. Brad and Kate are dragged to a service, and talked into playing Joseph and Mary in the Christmas play.
Brad’s mother Paula is played by Sissy Spacek, who just happens to have taken up with one of Brad’s childhood friends, who now is trying to stay friends with Brad, even though the situation is completely out of control. And finally the last stop is at Kate’s father Creighton’s house (Jon Voight). As this is the last stop, and due to the fact that the couple has come to blows over where their relationship is heading, Kate comes alone, while Brad heads back to his dad’s house, wondering just what has happened.
The outcome is of course predictable, and while the premise is decent, the execution is lacking. Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon just never really seem like a real couple, and while Vaughn is funny, he seems to have been reigned in, and somewhat reserved. Reese is beautiful, and plays the part of Kate well, but it s a bit more wooden than I am used to seeing her characters. The supporting cast is star studded, but again, just seems to float in and out rather quickly, with the exception being Robert Duvall, who gets a fair amount of screen time, and uses it very well.
Overall Four Christmases is just so-so. I can’t say that I would watch it again, and while there are some funny spots, it just was not what it could have been. Call me a Scrooge or what have you, but I just thought this was decent, and not great.
Audio & Video: 7/10
The audio and video were amazingly average for Four Christmases. Presented in 1.85:1 wide screen, the video is really unremarkable. The movie does not really lend itself to any amazing shots or sweeping landscapes, so overall the presentation is just average. It seemed clear enough and the colors were decent, but there was nothing really dramatic about the presentation.
Same with the audio. The TureHD 5.1 Surround Sound is sparingly used in this dialogue heavy movie. The audio is just like the video, in that it works, but it is unremarkable. There is nothing wrong with either, which is great, but it just does not shine.
Four Christmases is one of those holiday movies that will probably be on cable during the holidays and you may just flip past it if you have already seen the movie. I love both Vaughn and Witherspoon, and the collection of the rest of the cast is impressive, but the movie is just a little to ordinary for me to really love it. The romance feels forced, as does the humor. I just don’t see this as a holiday classic, and it was just not funny enough throughout to keep my interest. Four Christmases is about three Christmases too many for my liking.
Overall Score 5/10