Four Christmases (12A)



Comedy (2008)
88mins US

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Jon Voight, Mary Steenburgen, Robert Duvall
Director: Seth Gordon
Writer(s): Matt Allen, Caleb Wilson, Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Happily unmarried couple Brad and Kate have been together for years and love one another's company - so much so, that every December 25, they make their excuses so they can spend the holiday season together in an exotic location, soaking up the sun. Unfortunately, this year, thick fog traps Brad and Kate at San Francisco airport where a local TV news crew follows their plight and reveals to their respective families, who are all watching, that they have nowhere to go for the holidays. Reluctantly, the lovebirds must visit their divorced parents and respective partners for four Christmas celebrations, each more deranged than the last.

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LondonNet Film Review
Four Christmases

Widely reported rumours of an on-set feud between lead stars Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn hardly echo the tidings of comfort and joy espoused by Seth Gordon's romantic comedy...

"We've just got to get through these four Christmases as quickly and painlessly as possible," grimaces Witherspoon's plucky heroine as she stares down the barrel of back-to-back celebrations with her divorced parents and the in-laws. By the end of the first act, we realise with mounting horror that director Gordon and his four screenwriters have no intention of granting her (and therefore us) that wish. Instead, the blissfully happy couple suffers a series of outrageous mishaps, which tests their relationship to breaking point, including a trawl through childhood photograph albums, a bruising tug of war with a satellite dish and a rumble in a bouncy castle. Witherspoon and Vaughn plaster on their fake smiles but don't convince for a second as a blissfully happy couple. When the cracks appear, there's almost a sense of relief that these two mismatched souls will go their separate ways. Of course, the screenwriters have other ideas, determined that this dull, festive ding-dong ends merrily on a high, replete with a mawkish coda set one year later.

Happily unmarried San Francisco couple Brad (Vaughn) and Kate (Witherspoon) have been together for years but have no plans to walk down the aisle, because as the man of the house notes, "There's a reason they use the phrases 'tie the knot' and 'ball and chain'." Every December 25, the lovebirds make outlandish, charity work-related excuses to their loved ones so they can jet off to sunnier climes to soak up the sun. "You lie to your families at Christmas time?" a friend gasps incredulously. "You can't really spell families without lies," replies Brad. Unfortunately, Mother Nature scuppers their plans to fly to Fiji by submerging San Francisco airport in thick fog. All planes are grounded and a TV news crew pounces on a disgruntled Brad and Kate at a check-in desk, broadcasting their sorry plight to their parents who are watching at home. Reluctantly, the couple must visit their four respective households in one day, each reunion more deranged and painful than the last.

Four Christmases is a tinsel-strewn retread of Meet The Parents, which fails to make us care about Brad and Kate before throwing them into the lion's dens of their childhood family homes. The first stopover with Brad's father (Robert Duvall) and his Ultimate Fighting Championship obsessed brothers (Jon Favreau, Tim McGraw) careens into the realms of the absurd too quickly, including a slapstick finale that seeks a laugh from accidentally battering a child. Vomit and urine stain the next segment with Kate's New Age convert mother (Mary Steenburgen) and her pastor boyfriend (Dwight Yoakam), and the film finally runs out of steam with brief visits to Brad's mother (Sissy Spacek) and Kate's father (Jon Voight, blink and you'll miss him). Witherspoon and Vaughn gamely fling themselves into each misguided comic set piece but ultimately they look embarrassed as their lovebirds break-up then make-up, determined to survive their ordeal hand in hand. "It really doesn't bother me if you were an abnormally fat baby with lesbian tendencies," says Brad tenderly. What a silver-tongued charmer.

- Sam Cannon


London Cinemas

From Friday 16th December
To Thursday 22nd December

- Roxy Bar And Screen
From Friday 23rd December
To Thursday 29th December

Not showing at any
London cinemas this week.


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Rest of UK and Irish Cinemas

Listed in alphabetical order by city/place name followed by cinema name.

From Friday 16th December
To Thursday 22nd December

Not showing at any
UK cinemas this week.
From Friday 23rd December
To Thursday 29th December

Not showing at any
UK cinemas this week.


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