Four Christmases
PG-13
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: -3

Reese Witherspoon, Vince Vaughn, Robert Duvall. Comedy.

FILM SYNOPSIS: An upscale, happily unmarried San Francisco couple is off for an annual Christmas vacation, rather than spending it with their families. But when their flight is foiled by fog, they are caught on TV at the airport. Soon, their cell phones are ring-jing-jingling. Because their parents are divorced and with others, they find themselves stranded with four sets of dysfunctional kith and kin. By films end, our self-absorbed couple discovers that they havent been entirely open in their relationship.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Like most films, serious or comic, that rely on family dysfunction to give substance to their stories, Four Christmases wallows in emotional combat. Here a little slapstick comes in to play, as well. Slapstick such as a baby spitting up on a decked-out single (here done twice) gets a laugh a big laugh. And the sight of two grown men constantly wrestling their brother to the ground with all the warfare adeptness of Rambo gets another laugh. And then there is the photo album filled with pictures of the beautiful female lead when she wasnt so beautiful. This also gets several guffaws (at the expense of the real life little girls in the pictures). And of course, our lead couple, so happy not being saddled with kids or wedding-ring commitment, learn that they really are missing out by not having a family. But after so many cartoonish family altercations, one wonders why such an abrupt about face would come about.

For those who enjoy seeing one argument after argument and buffoonish slapstick thats more coarse than amusing, this may be your film. Beware of the church scenes. Forced into playing Mary and Joseph in the Nativity story, the two leads improvise their routine, one that does little to conjure up the true meaning of the season. Some may even find it blasphemous. I found it in bad taste. And nearly as bad, it wasnt funny.

Its not a bad movie. There just wasnt anybody in it I wanted to spend the holidays with.

DVD Alternative: Elf (2003). Having accidentally snuck into Santa's sleigh, a human baby is raised at the North Pole as an elf. After wreaking havoc in the elf community due to his 62size, Buddy (Will Ferrell) heads to New York City to find his place in the world and track down his father. Absolutely hysterical.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: New Line/Warner Bros.

Summary
Crude Language: There are several crude sexual remarks from family members who behave as if they were inbred hillbillies.
Obscene Language: Around five obscenities and four minor expletives.
Profanity: Two uses of the expression Oh my God.
Violence: In a slapstick situation, two men descend on their brother, with head locks and body slams, etc. This happens several times in an attempt to generate laughter from an audience desperately seeking same.
Sexual Intercourse: The couple live together out of wedlock and by films end, are seen delivering a baby; neither of the two are wearing wedding rings.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Some social drinking
Other: Several scenes deal with a Christian group, each of these women lustfully look at the leading man; scenes in questionable taste take place in a church
Running Time: 80 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and Older

Copyright Preview Family Movie Review (www.previeoOnline.org)