Four Christmases (12A)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner26/11/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 88 mins

Average family comedy that's saved by likeable performances from Vaughn and Witherspoon, though it bungles its emotional finale and feels a little flat as a result.

What's it all about?
Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon play Brad and Kate, an upscale San Francisco couple who routinely ditch their crazy families at Christmas, telling them that they're doing charity work abroad while secretly holidaying at an exotic location. However, when a fogbank cancels their flight and they're caught on camera by a local news crew, their families see the news reports and call them, forcing Brad and Kate to spend Christmas with each of their separated parents, played, respectively by Academy Award winners Robert Duvall, Mary Steenburgen, Sissy Spacek and Jon Voight.

The Good
Vaughn and Witherspoon make a likeable screen couple and spark off each other nicely, even though they're slightly more interesting as Kent and Daphne, the characters they're role-playing in a bar in the opening scene. There's also strong comic support from Kristen Chenoweth (as Kate's sister), Robert Duvall (as Brad's testosterone-fuelled father) and Sissy Spacek as Brad's mother, who's in a relationship with his ex-best friend (Patrick Van Horn).

The Bad
Director Seth Gordon struggles with the tone of the film – the first Christmas is front-loaded with slapstick and unrealistic farce, which sits at odds with the supposedly deeper, surprisingly downbeat storyline that develops towards the end. He also bungles the emotional finale and the final scene is unsatisfying on a number of levels.

The film's other problem is that several of the jokes (inappropriate grandmothers, vomiting babies) fall flat, despite the best efforts of its talented cast. That said, two sequences do produce some decent laughs: Brad and Kate's reactions to a revelation about Kate's childhood friend Jo; and a hilarious game of Taboo, featuring a scene-stealing turn by Jon Favreau and Katy Mixon (as Brad's brother and sister-in-law).

Worth seeing?
The cast ensure that Four Christmases remains watchable despite its flaws, but, frankly, a Christmas movie isn't doing its job unless you're reduced to sentimental tears by the end.

Film Trailer

Four Christmases (12A)
Four Christmases has been reviewed by 1 users
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 24/03/2019 17:00

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Foxcatcher (15)

Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum star in this real life inspired story of Olympic talent, fierce competition and murder.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films