Saturday, July 17, 2010

Four Christmases(2008)

IMDB Review by Ravel555-1 from United States

Imagine making a series of visits to your parents and relatives, as well as your companion's parents and relatives, only to discover that they have prepared a string of physically and mentally strenuous situations that boundlessly embarrass you and your companion in front of each other. In addition, this is all in the context of Christmas. Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon are Brad and Kate, the victims of this unfortunate predicament, which is the premise for one of the most contemptible movies of recent times.

Brad and Kate are a couple who live in San Francisco and are perfectly happy together as long as they remain unmarried. They do not want to be bothered with the pressures and responsibilities of marriage and a family. For Christmas, they are planning to take a vacation to Fiji in order to avoid spending the holiday with their divorced parents, all of whom are unaware of Brad and Kate's plans.

Unfortunately, a massive amount of fog has developed in San Francisco causing every single airline flight to be canceled. To make matters worse, Brad and Kate appear on a live television newscast that is reporting the events taking place. Naturally, their parents are watching the news and at this point, the couple feel they have no choice but to visit all four of their parents, resulting in "Four Christmases," which turn out to be odious scenes of either Brad or Kate, or both of them for that matter, being name called, physically attacked, vomited on, or reminded of past experiences that are best forgotten.

This movie has a noticeably mean spirit to it, which is brought out substantially by the characters. Most of them are boorish, repulsive, and just plain obnoxious. The cruel, forced humor only magnifies their unappealing qualities. The movie might have worked better if the characters were more good-natured, and the comic situations and gags were not presented in such a ruthless manner. A movie can be funny when the main characters wind up in situations that subject them to more trouble than they deserve. But when the other characters purposely initiate these troubles in a callous way, it is not amusing, but preposterous and repelling.

To further illustrate this idea of humor, it helps to compare this movie to the 19 91 comedy, "What About Bob?," which has similarities to "Four Christmases," as far as humor is concerned. There are noticeable differences as well. In "What About Bob?," Bill Murray plays a disturbed, multi-phobic individual named Bob Wiley, receiving therapy from a successful psychiatrist, Dr. Leo Marvin, played by Richard Dreyfuss. Bob clings to Dr. Marvin so much that he practically smothers him. Dr. Marvin's wife and two kids grow quite fond of Bob and they practically make him one of the family, much to Dr. Marvin's dismay. All of this gradually drives Dr. Marvin to insanity and he, like Brad and Kate, winds up in plenty of embarrassing and frustrating situations.

Now, why does the humor in "What About Bob?" work so well? Because the characters are more pleasant and likable, and their actions and behaviors are not meant to intentionally disconcert the poor, innocent victim. What makes it even funnier is how slowly and gradually Dr. Marvin loses his mind while Bob and Dr. Marvin's family remain completely unaware of this. Humor of this sort has a more lighthearted nature and is not contrived or irrational. It does not have to rely on cheap, senseless sight gags such as Brad being attacked repeatedly by his brothers or Kate being knocked around by a bunch of bratty kids. In "Four Christmases," it feels as if many of the characters are deliberately attempting to embarrass Brad and Kate. If you were to ask what the characters' reasons are for their behavior, well, maybe the only answer would be that they are behaving this way for the sake of being heartless.

Vaughn and Witherspoon's characters fail to provide any felicity. Between the tiresome family visits, we are bogged down with irritating transitions where Brad and Kate are either reflecting negatively on the events that had just occurred or fussing about the current nature of their relationship. When you think about it, this is all disheartening around Christmas time. Yes, the movie tries to incorporate some sweetness and warmth. But that only sets the stage for the predictable ending and that is all that needs to be said about that.

Perhaps the movie would not have been as mean-spirited if it had nothing to do with Christmas and the supporting characters were people other than family members who are supposed to make holiday visits special. Then again, if that were the case, the movie might have been even more dismal. As if that was not enough, the cast contains no less than five actors who have won Oscars at some point in their careers. So what? Their presence provides nothing more than agitation in that their talents are wasted. They are not given any intriguing material to work with. Did the makers of this movie really think that the mere use of award-winning actors would compensate for everything the movie lacks? Who knows?

IMDB Rating 5.7/10

Sourav Bhattacharya

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