Four Christmases (review)

Brad (Vince Vaughn: Fred Claus) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon: Rendition) are perfectly, deliriously happy with their unmarried, child-free existence, so naturally this cannot be allowed to stand. Over the course of a single Christmas day of visits with her mother, his father, his mother, and her father (and their assorted new partners, and their siblings, and their siblings-in-law, and so on), they will gradually come around to acknowledging the error of their nonconformist ways. It’s not all a total loss, even for those of us more likely to identify with Brad and Kate at the beginning of the film than we are once they’ve been “fixed”: if you like the two stars (I do), you’ll love them here, and while a bit more of the humiliation brand of physical comedy is deployed than a supposedly grownup movie should be attempting, much of it actually does work to generate sympathy on our part for Brad and Kate, rather than disdain. Still, the inevitable eventual swing to sentimentality — and to teaching Brad and Kate a lesson in what everyone is supposed to want out of life — feels like an abandonment of the movie’s earlier courage of its convictions.

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