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Four Christmases


Stars: Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall, Mary Steenburgen, Sissy Spacek, Jon Voight, Jon Favreau

Director: Seth Gordon

A cheerfully rude, strictly unbelievable, rough-and-tumble romcom with physically mismatched Witherspoon and Vaughn as the happily unmarried couple who have successfully avoided their separated families at Christmastime with a series of lies about heading for far-flung destinations to help underprivileged children.

But, when fog grounds all flights on Christmas Day, and they're spotted on TV at the airport, they're forced to confront all four households in the same 24 hours.

Vaughn's gun-happy, back-slapping dad (Duvall) has two other sons, both cage fighters who bash Vince about, before our hero falls off the roof trying to fix a satellite dish, taking half a room with him. Reese's flaky mom (Steenburgen) has got religion - and the pastor - and Reese is pounded by kids in her worst nightmare: a jump-jump (bouncy castle to us) while Grandma relates unspeakable acts she intends to perform on senile Grandpa.

Vince's mom (Spacek) has taken up with his best friend, while Reese's dad (Voight) hasn't communicated with anyone in ages. Reese, now broody after seeing her sister's baby, and Vince fall out, and display an (unconvincing) lack of communication in a board game.

All of this sounds much, much funnier than it actually is, as Vaughn comes on too strong, Witherspoon is shrill (never thought I'd say that) and Gordon directs with a heavy hand. The film has energy and colour in bucketloads, but lacks wit and charm. The best it can manage in the way of a running gag, is babies projectile-vomiting over the unfortunate Witherspoon. With this cast, all concerned really should have done better.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Entertainment (New Line). Colour by FotoKem.
88 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 23 Nov 2008