‘Four Christmases’ Synopsis: When the fog rolls in on Christmas and grounds all the flights, Brad and Kate are unable to spend the holiday vacationing as usual. Instead, they must visit their family’s, and deal with the inevitable that follows.
Release Date: November 26, 2008 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Comedy, Romantic Comedy
If you are looking for a film that will make you laugh, you have found it. The story is enjoyable, as our the performances by an ensemble cast. It it overall a film that serves its purpose, to entertain.
In the first moments of the film you are introduced to Brad and Kate’s feelings on marriage. There dialogue is written perfectly to portray their feelings and make the audience laugh out loud at the hilarious beliefs they share. This scene sets the stage for how the two characters, and the cast as a whole, will speak, with an all out bluntness that is refreshing and terrifying at the same time.
The rest of the film delivers the laughs through the collection of one-liners performing as the backdrop for the comedy or the actions by the characters themselves. The entire cast is given their own specific nuances through the writing and play off each other brilliantly. Although there are no real distinct character arcs or high levels of dramatic effect as the story progresses, it goes unnoticed by what you are given.
There are lines you will not soon forget, like when Grandma has her say on what gift she is giving this year. It may be a remark that has been done in some form before but it is still hilarious, and given the scene as a whole a great new twist on an expected laugh. As a comedy, the writing excels as it is full of playful banter, and an overall humor that is neither vulgar or foul mouthed, just plain funny.
For the most part the film portrays a very standard style of cinematography. It is these standard shot set-ups that cause a major issue while watching the film. The actor, Vince Vaughn, is VERY tall in comparison to actress Reese Witherspoon. Instead of adjusting the framing for this it is ignored. Leaving many of the medium shots to appear awkward as the two characters engage each other with such a large distance between them. This also affects the close ups of the two actors kissing as it appears unnatural for him to have to bend down so far into the shot to reach her face, or lips. This lack of framing and adjustment weakens the dynamic between the two characters in a variety of scenes because they do not seem to fit in a film that is all about being the perfect fit.
The film employs the classical style of editing. It does deviate in a great way from the standard at times by replacing the SRS (shot-reverse-shot) with sound bridges. Instead of constantly cutting back and forth between two people on their lines, the editor employs the use of the sound bridge so the character on camera is not always the one talking. This choice is effective as it gives you more of an opportunity to see the reactions of characters to others and is less distracting as the shot on screen is not continually changing every few seconds as the dialogue shifts from one person to another. It makes for a more enjoyable pacing and overall effect for particular scenes.
Score and Soundtrack
There is one scene where the score truly stands out and is impeccable, adding to the drama and comedy of the scene as it unfolds: in the jump jump. As Kate is trapped in the ‘jump jump’ the score heightens and is awesome. It is heart pumping, reminiscent of a war battle scene, that gets you in the game so to speak as Kate fights her way through the madness that is the ‘jump jump’. The score sets such a tone for the scene, and her mindset. It only adds to the drama, and the comedy, of such a moment for the character, and as an audience member you find yourself completely invested in this battle. Without such a piece of music mixed with the physical comedy the scene would lose so much of what it offers, laughs.
The two main characters of the film, Brad and Kate, have a very real world chemistry to them after they meet the families. Prior to this moment they come across as slightly fake. As if no two people could really be that in love and happy.
Once the family’s come into play the chemistry between everyone is magnificent. Brad and Kate begin to act like an average couple, in far from average circumstances, and there feelings are completely believable towards one another. As as ensemble, everyone engages each other just like you would imagine a family member does in day to day life. The chemistry does fail at times between Brad and Kate when the dramatic tone of the film is meant to be heightened, but the instances are minor. Technically, this film is all about the ensemble, and that never fails.
This film is funny. Simple as that. Best of all, it does not rely on gags, gross-out extremes, or foul language to deliver.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Seth Gordon
- Producer(s): Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Matt R. Allen, Caleb Wilson, Jon Lucas, Scott Moore, Matt R. Allen
- Screenwriter(s): Caleb Wilson
- Cast: Vince Vaughn (Brad), Reese Witherspoon (Kate), Robert Duvall (Howard), Sissy Spacek (Paula), Jon Voight (Creighton), Jon Favreau (Denver), Mary Steenburgen (Marilyn), Dwight Yoakam (Pastor Phil), Tim McGraw (Dallas), Kristin Chenoweth (Courtney), Katy Mixon (Susan), Carol Kane (Aunt)