It says a lot for Vince Vaughn that he still made me laugh during the otherwise mind-numbing Four Christmases.
Yes children, this movie is perfectly stupid. But it is also the kind of stupid you expect - and I don't know whether that makes me happy or sad. It's already a dumb idea. Visiting four families on Christmas is not something that should be the plot of a movie. It's something that should be one comical act of a movie, amounting to something more. Thing is, this doesn't amount to anything more.
Seth Gordon should stick to documentaries. His previous film, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. A relatively new name to Hollywood, he clearly jumped at the idea of directing a narrative feature, and it is too bad. But I can't really blame Gordon. It's not the direction, or even the acting, that makes this a bad movie. In the end, it's the script.
It's just stupid. That's the only real way to put it. Just to have a film about a dysfunctional family is not enough - you can find that everywhere. The trick is to give it some substance, and go to the next level with it. Arrested Development proved this beautifully. This was, in my opinion, one of the best shows ever on television, and it's because it had substance. That's what Four Christmases does not seem to understand. There's no substance here. The characters barely grow, and they don't really learn anything through their "journey". In fact, I don't even know why they are together. They don't seem like a couple who would work well together. And, reflecting on it, I now have no idea what the hell the first scene had to do with anything.
As I said earlier, I did laugh a bit. And it's all due to Vince Vaughn. Even Jon Favreau, who I normally love, did not do anything for me. It's Vaughn's comedic timing, and maybe even his odd voice, that pushes this train wreck all the way to the end of the station. He can take almost any line and make it funny. And thank god for that. I know they show the "baby vomit" scene in the trailer, but that was easily the best part of the movie. Bummer.
Reese Witherspoon is ok. She wasn't bad, but at no point did I think she was good. There is one scene in which she takes down a bunch of kids in a moon-bounce. You don't see that often enough. It's debatable if you should rent this movie just to see that.
In the end, Four Christmases fails to achieve anything at all. Comedies are not just meant to make you laugh anymore, they are supposed to leave you with something.
As for what this film left me with, I feel like I'm just waiting for it to come home, maybe for the holidays.