When the film Four Christmases was released in 2008, the film was panned by critics. According the The Hollywood Reporter, it's "one of the most joyless Christmas movies ever." Rotten Tomatoes gives the movie a score of 29%. And legendary film critic Robert Ebert gave the film two out of four stars and wrote his review in the form of a pitch ridiculing the concept. But despite the gravitas of these reviews, (and as somebody who just completed a semester of Film Theory), I beg to differ.
Four Christmases stars Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon as Brad and Kate, respectively, a happily unmarried couple who make a point to avoid their divorced parents come Christmastime. However, after their flight gets canceled and their families see them on the local news, they have to make the rounds to all four households. Hence the title Four Christmases.
First of all, let's just take a look at this casting. Vince Vaughn? We know him from hits like Dodgeball and Wedding Crashers and now he's back ready to redeem himself after Fred Claus (nobody needs to see Paul Giamatti playing Santa.) And Reese Witherspoon!? What a duo these two make! Just look at that comical height difference on that poster--I'm laughing already!
And like some sort of Christmas miracle the casting only gets better! The parents are all played by Academy Award WINNERS! Including Reese Witherspoon, that means there are FIVE Oscars among this cast. That's one more than there are Christmases in this movie.
So at the end of the day what we've got here is a film starring Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Jon Voight, Mary Steenburgen, Jon Favreau, Tim McGraw, and Kristin Chenoweth. All-star cast? Check.
Christmas #1: Dr. Seuss' How the Robert Duvall Stole Christmas
First stop: Brad's redneck father and brothers, Denver and Dallas. Denver, Dallas, and Brad? Hmmm, those names don't really seem to match up. WELL, it turns out that all of the children were named after the cities in which they were conceived and Brad's name is actually: ORLANDO! First of all, those parents really moved around. Secondly, this name revelation upsets Kate who thought she knew Brad better. But, as Brad argues, "You don't say, my name used to be Asshole, but it's Bob. You just say my name is Bob." Fair point, Orlando.
This visit is filled with unwanted wrestling, baloney sandwiches, and a satellite dish instillation gone terribly wrong. Just like Dickens wrote of.
Christmas #2: A Very Mary Steenburgen Christmas
When visiting Kate's mother, Brad learns everything about Kate that he didn't know before, including her scarring experience in the bounce house as "Cootie Kate." Not to mention that Reese Witherspoon essentially beats the shit out of several eight-year-olds in order to retrieve a stolen pregnancy test, a harrowing scene that undoubtedly prepared her for her role in Wild.
They also go to a service at Pastor Phil's (Kate's mom's boyfriend) church, which turns out to be more like a laser light concert of sorts. But when Mary and Joseph are no-shows for the nativity play--Brad and Kate unwillingly step up. Kate freezes on stage but Brad saves the show in what has to be Vince Vaughn's greatest performance since Old School.
And just for the record, I would be perfectly happy watching two hours of the hilarity that is Vince Vaughn gagging at the sight of vomit.
Christmas #3: Sissy Spacek the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Next stop: Sissy Spacek's bohemian Christmas gathering. But insert comical plot twist: Brad's mom is dating Brad's childhood best friend. This leads to a hilarious game of Taboo that included Brad's brother Denver and his wife, who dominate the game. "Me and you dry-humping on the beach." "Screensaver." "Yes."
At this point the tension between Brad and Kate that resulted from these Christmases brings about a fight that ends with Brad dropping Kate off at her dad's and taking off.
Christmas #4: A Jon Voight Christmas Story
Enter stage left, Jon Voight, ready to play the voice of reason. Nothing too wild happens here, besides that Kate is able to see that her parents have reconciled and Brad soon comes-a-knocking and they make up for a happy ending.
Cut to EPILOGUE!
After agreeing that they're opening up a conversation about having a family, they agree that they won't rush into anything. But uh-oh, one year later and where are these two crazy kids? In a delivery room! But they're still the Brad and Kate we've come to know and love--their families don't even know that they had a baby! But what is this? Yet another camera crew here to expose their lies like a Christmas episode of Catfish? You betcha. But the very best part of this ending comes when the new-born baby projectile vomits, which grants the audience their Christmas wish of yet another shot of Vince Vaughn's classic dry heaving.
Listen, I understand this isn't high-brow comedy--but it's not trying to be. Is Four Christmases the greatest Christmas movie of all time? Probably. But that's beside the point. The important thing is that it's funny and you should watch it. Why? Because I need somebody to talk to about it.
So the moral of the story here is yes, your Christmas wish has come true, finally somebody has posted an in-depth recap of the 2008 movie Four Christmases seven years after it was released. You're welcome. But more importantly, this movie that has been so unfairly tarnished deserves a defender. And here I am. If you've now got your sights set on watching this hilarity unfold, it's probably playing on TBS right now. Today, TBS; tomorrow, the world!