If Christmas is about tradition, then director Seth Gordon's (The King of Kong) first non-documentary feature, Four Christmases, is certainly seasonally appropriate. The romantic comedy genre is an unexpected new direction for Gordon, and with the reasonably likeable Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn in tow, how poorly could things really go? Well, the Writers Guild could go on strike, for starters, as it did during the making of this film—a circumstance that at least partially explains why the script, while performed aptly enough by a talented cast, is so damn lazy.
Witherspoon and Vaughn star as Kate and Brad, two San Francisco yuppies who are happily unmarried and childless. Both are products of broken marriages, and in order to avoid seeing their families on Christmas, they have their own tradition of lying and saying they're going to do charity work in the developing world (how preposterous!), while they really go to Fiji. But this year, things change when a thick fog mucks with their flight (that darn San Francisco!), and the couple is forced to make an appearance at each of their parents' houses, neatly touching upon a whole slew of stereotypes. Out of all of them, at least one will strike home with you: There's "Trashy Christmas," with spray cheese, beer, and ultimate fighting; there's "Hippie Christmas," with Brad's mom (Sissy Spacek), who is now dating his ex-best friend; there's "Cougar Christmas," with Kate's lecherous female relations; and "Healthy, Wholesome Christmas," where—spoiler alert!—Kate realizes she does want a baby after all, to perpetuate the grand family/Christmas cycle that's the moral core of the film.
Along the way, Brad's brothers beat him up, Kate's mom breaks out the pictures from fat camp, pregnancy tests are pirated by small children, babies are mishandled, babies puke, and ultimatums are made because someone wants to have babies, babies, babies.
I'm on the next flight to Fiji.