Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon), a happily unwed couple, are forced into celebrating four separate Christmases when their holiday flight to Fiji gets canceled. As chaos and family dysfunction rules the day, Brad is counting down the hours until they can board a plane out of the country, while Kate begins to question whether or not she’s as happy with the lack of responsibility and family as she thinks she is.
For two actors who supposedly did not get along on set, Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon have just the right amount of chemistry to make Four Christmases work. The fabulous supporting cast consists of (Oscar winners) Jon Voight, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, and Robert Duvall, all of whom provide their own brand of parental failings and affection. Jon Favreau and Tim McGraw are amusing and cringe-worthy as Brad’s brothers, while Kristin Chenoweth adds charm as Kate’s sister, Courtney.
Each parental visit carries its own issues, including childhood traumas that Brad and Kate have kept from one another (Brad’s real name is Orlando, Kate used to be fat) and while it’s easy to see why Brad and Kate have avoided bringing one another home to meet their families, the movie does a decent enough job including the warmer family moments that Brad and Kate have missed out on.
These particular moments trigger Kate’s realization that maybe she wants the marriage and family that she and Brad have spent the last three years dismissing. Brad, of course, does not want these things, though this particular conflict is pretty easily resolved after Brad spends a bit more time with his jerk of a dad and the idea of a wife and kids is far less terrifying to him than turning into his bitter, lonely old man.
There is nothing overly memorable about Four Christmases, but I found it to be an entertaining and warm movie to watch around this time of year. Vince Vaughn is amusing even while in typical Vince Vaughn mode, and Reese is as lovely as ever, especially during her scenes with Jon Voight. The supporting cast shines and thankfully none of the family visits run too long that they become unbearable. Honorable mention goes to Brad’s reaction to baby vomit, as it still manages to get a chuckle out of me every time I see it.