Four Christmases Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
In what is fast becoming an unfortunate annual tradition, Four Christmases is the first of 2008’s dysfunctional family holiday movies.
Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) are thirty-something’s who have been living together for three years and are convinced the only thing that could ruin their relationship is marriage. Chances are their negative matrimonial attitudes stem from the fact both their parents are divorced. Because each is now living in new relationships with other children, it makes the idea of getting together to celebrate Christmas very complicated.
So the independent couple has instead chosen to hatch lies about saving starving children in Third World countries when in fact they have headed off on a sunny vacation each year. However, this year throws a snowball their way when bad weather cancels all flights leaving San Francisco. Worse yet, the stranded pair find themselves on live television dressed in beach gear—and their families are quick to phone after discovering they are grounded for Christmas.
With no other choice, and having never met each others’ families, Brad and Kate get in their SUV and begin a day of introductions to their separated parents and siblings. They begin with Brad’s father Howard (Robert Duvall), and brothers Dallas (Tim McGraw) and Denver (Jon Favreau). After a wild wrestling match and an attempt to set up a satellite dish, the next stop is Kate’s mom’s house (Mary Steenburgen) where they find themselves as part of a very contemporary nativity enactment under the direction of her mother’s fanatical Christian boyfriend Pastor Phil (Dwight Yoakam).
At this point, you’d swear the day (and hopefully the movie) should be coming to an end, but two more visits await. So they move on to Brad’s new-age mother (played by Sissy Spacek) who is living with one of his old school buddies. Finally, they drop in on Creighton (Jon Voight), Mary’s father. The most “normal” of the bunch, this character lectures about being honest and leads the story to the obligatory, sappy happy ending.
Probably the greatest problem with this genre of movies is their mixture of slapstick comedy (implying the actions are funny, which is highly debatable) juxtaposed with serious messages. In this case the film gives lip service to the idea that having a baby can be a life-fulfilling event—a tough statement to swallow after having been subjected to dozens of sight gags and jokes involving babies vomiting, defecating and breastfeeding. We’re also firmly told families are worth the hassle—again a platitude that is hardly demonstrated on-screen.
After 90 minutes of sexual innuendos, some sexual activity, a moderate selection of profanities and a group of characters who spend far more time arguing than enjoying each other’s company, you may question where the holiday spirit is in this film. Arriving home for Christmas with bags packed full of psychological and emotional disturbances, the most unfortunate part is no one has kept their receipts—preventing any happy returns.Starring Reese Witherspoon, Vince Vaughn. Running time: 82 minutes. Theatrical release November 25, 2008. Updated November 24, 2009
Rating & Content Info
Why is Four Christmases rated PG-13? Four Christmases is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some sexual humor and language.
Don’t let the word “Christmas” in the title lead you to believe this is a film Christians or any other group will find particularly inspiring. Arguing and domestic squabbles occur frequently, as do moments of sexual innuendo and open discussions regarding breastfeeding and pregnancy. An unmarried couple is seen in the initial stages of sex in a public restroom. While two men are wrestling, one makes sexual movements with his legs. A woman talks about pleasuring her husband. Another woman speaks of sleeping with members of a sports team and her husband’s experimenting with men. Discussions occur about a woman having a lesbian friend. Moderate and mild profanities are heard, including scatological terms and terms of deity. During a Christmas Nativity, a character playing Joseph insults Mary, declaring her an unfit mother—his remarks are met with approval from the audience. A woman deals with feelings of inadequacy because she was an obese child—her family continues to tease her about being “fat.” A woman talks about sneaking cigarettes while pregnant, and another character implies there are drugs in her “special brownies.” Social drinking is depicted. Slapstick violence includes a man falling from a roof while installing a satellite dish.
Page last updated November 24, 2009
More parents' guide for Four Christmases after the break...
Four Christmases Parents' Guidep>How do the actions portrayed on screen in this movie differ from the message the film is trying to present? How do you cope with difficult family members? Is there a difference between loving and liking your family?
The most recent home video release of Four Christmases movie is November 24, 2009. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: Four Christmases
Release Date: 24 November 2009
Four Christmases on DVD includes both the widescreen and full-screen presentations of the movie. Audio tracks are in Dolby Digital 5.1 (English).
Four Christmases on Blu-ray comes with a bonus Digital Copy of the movie. Audi tracks are available in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English ) and Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), with subtitles in Spanish and French. Extra material includes:
- Featuettes: Behind The Story and Four Christmases: Holiday Moments
- Seven Layer Holiday Meals In a Flash
- HBO First Look: Four Christmases: Behind The Madness
- Gag Reel
- Deleted Scenes
- BD Live Media Center: Four Christmases: Favorite Christmas Memories and Paula Deen and Katy Mixon Unleashed (Outtakes).
Related home video titles:
A middle-aged man who would like to take his wife on a winter cruise, finds his holiday plans are getting a frosty reception from friends and family who are expecting the traditional trimmings in Christmas With the Kranks. In a completely opposite scenario, a man consistently sacrifices his own wants for the needs of his friends and family in the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life.