An Awkward Christmas Times Four

An Awkward Christmas Times Four

Deepa Kollipara

Like  holiday shopping and drinking eggnog, the annual Christmas movie filled with candy-caned sugary comedy has become a vital part of the holiday season. After Vince Vaughn served up the feel good and disposable-as-wrapping-paper "Fred Claus" in 2007, this year’s "Four Christmases" seemed like the sequel.

Fortunately, this time Hollywood is deciding to break tradition.

To start off, "Four Christmases" follows a very agonizing Christmas for Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon), a fun-loving couple from San Fransisco, which challenges the stereotypical setting of snow-filled New York City. 

Each year, Kate and Brad have somewhat humorously avoided the traditional Christmas  by inventing exotic charity projects from saving turtles in Guatemala to building shelters in Burma, and spend Christmas at a Hawaii-esque summer island instead. Sadly, their plan is foiled and they must endure all four Christmas celebrations with each of their divorced parents’ respective new families, all filled with a good dose of social awkwardness.

The 83 minutes of the movie goes by fast with only approximately 15 minutes of movie time per house celebration, making it very hard to even remember the numerous amount of unique family members. In fact, unless you are consciously looking for country singer Tim McGraw, it’s almost impossible to notice that he makes a cameo as Brad’s pro-wrestling brother who painfully strangles him for fun.

Vaughn and Witherspoon, just by their physical nature, make a very odd, mismatched pair on screen as Vaughn, standing at 6’5", towers over Witherspoon’s 5’2" frame. Their comedy styles are quite different—Vaughn relies on sarcasm and slapstick comedy, Witherspoon goes for a mixture of witty and at the same time "dumb blond" comments, not far off her role as Elle Woods in the comedy "Legally Blonde."

Vaughn fortunately sticks to  what he does best, making funny faces as he gets beaten up by his brothers and making rude remarks about his stubborn father and Kate’s racy sister Courtney. Witherspoon plays his faithful sidekick, and overall had decent chemistry with Vaughn. However, Witherspoon unsuccessfully attempts physical comedy as she painfully tries to chase down her 7-year-old niece who steals her pregnancy test. Yet, Witherspoon saves herself with the retort, "You know, I peed on that."

"Four Christmases" follows Brad and Kate deal with four types of stereotypical American families, ranging from the conspicuously misplaced Bay Area rednecks to the traditional, middle class family with a large and perfectly decorated house. While four families might seem too much, each family was incredibly strange and yet loving enough that anyone who watches the movie can find a little of the families within their own.

But one thing’s always the same: the main characters are quite humiliated, lacking the usual holiday cheer.

Be warned, this is definitely not a family event to do over break. The script relies on suggestive and sexual humor, like when Brad’s childhood best friend declares, “I swear I never had sexual feelings for your mom until I was 30."
Another warning: make sure you can stand puke. There are a lot of puking babies, which becomes not only gross but also quite repetitive.