Guys, can we all just agree that families are weird? It’s 2011. Can we just finally for once and for all recognize that there are both good and bad things about families, and that it is definitely weird that you have this lifelong bond to people some of whom you might not even like that much, and that there is all this intense stuff about families and your sense of obligations towards families and your sometimes inability to escape the long dark shadow cast by your family, and all of that, but also that some things are pretty great about families and but also that in the end the one thing that is for sure is that we all have families and we all have to figure out how to manage that while also leading our own lives as best we can? It seems like every single year we are rediscovering how weird it is to be in a family, as if we didn’t have families last year, or weren’t paying attention. And here’s another thing about families: everyone’s got to do the work, OK?! Stop complaining. “I can’t stand my family.” Shut up. Deal with it dot gif, dude. No matter what, they definitely MADE YOU, so give them credit for that and then work out the rest. It’s exhausting! We all have headaches already without having to listen to your headache. And you know what, when you start to actually talk about it, your mom sounds fun and nice and like she really loves you, SO CAN IT.
This week’s (final) entry in the Hunt for the Worst Movie of All Time: Holiday Edition Hunt, Four Christmases, is about a couple who has a bunch of wacky families. OH DON’T WE JUST ALL. Let’s talk about it.
Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon are two LOVERS in San Francisco who love to take dance classes and play role-playing fuck games in the bathrooms of awful looking hotel bars. They live in a REALLY nice apartment and dress nicely and have BANTER. It’s basically the dream, OR IS IT? At one point early in the movie at the dance class they take together (not to be confused with one of their role-playing hotel bar bathroom fuck games) a couple asks them when they are getting married which is an INSANELY personal question to just spring on a stranger. Like, shut your mouth? That’s none of your business? Instead, Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon give a lengthy and somewhat condescending lecture about all the ways in which marriage is an antiquated contractual trap that puts undue pressure on what was an already happy relationship. Sure! That’s certainly a valid viewpoint to have in this world of constantly dissolving marriages. They went a little hard about it to perfect strangers in the cool down period of a dance class, but shame on those strangers for bringing it up in the first place, so.
For the past three years, Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon have avoided going home for Christmas and made up elaborate lies about charitable work they were doing when in reality they were going on a Christmas with the Kranks style caribbean vacation. This year, though, the airport is all fogged in. Oh no! To make matters worse, a news reporter on the scene tries to interview them, so now everyone knows they aren’t actually in Burma inoculating goats or whatever the hell, and so now they not only have to spend Christmas with their families, they have to visit ALL FOUR FAMILIES ON THE SAME DAY!
Hold on a second.
I have trouble running more than one ERRAND in a day. How are these clowns going to go to four separate Christmas celebrations? Do all of their families live in one apartment complex? (Answer: no.) It’s just so weird that a light-hearted Hollywood romantic comedy for the holidays would include such an unrealistic plot point when all the other movies in the world stick fastidiously to the believable. Huh. Anyway, so they go visit their families and everyone is KARAZY! There is the poor family and the born again Christian family and the hippie family. It is all a little bit much! Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon keep learning very SURPRISING things they didn’t know about each other, like Vince Vaughn’s real name is Orlando, not Brad, after the city in which he was conceived, and Reese WItherspoon went to fat camp when she was a kid. They are starting to think they don’t know each other at all.
Wait a second.
I get that they have skipped Christmas for the past three years, but neither of them has ever met the other’s family WHATSOEVER? Because that should have raised some red flags on both of their parts. It would be hard to believe that a happy couple that had been dating for three years had never met anyone from each other’s respective families no matter what, but on top of that, EVERYONE LIVES IN THE BAY AREA? No one had a brunch at some point or something? Not even a brunch, huh? Weird. You guys should break up because you’re both being VERY weird.
Oh, wait, they do break up. Because after being continuously forced to hold babies at each house in an ever-increasingly comical insistence on beating the audience over the head with what was coming next (like, the first time Vince Vaughn holds a baby, shit goes into SLOW MOTION, lol) Reese Witherspoon realizes maybe she DOES want to get married and have kids one day, who knows, and maybe it’s not enough to wear black turtlenecks and take it from behind in a bathroom stall after dance class.
Maybe there is more to life?! But Vince Vaughn told her from the beginning he didn’t want those things, so he drops her off at the LAST CHRISTMAS and drives away. Don’t worry. Give him 10 minutes. And he’s back. They decide that even though families are crazy they are going to be a family and the movie ends with a BABYYYYYYYYY. (But they didn’t tell their families because they still hate their families and are so bizarrely secretive in a really unhealthy way but whoops now they are on the news again LOL.)
Four Christmases is easily the best of the movies we’ve watched this month (we have all watched all of them, right? Especially Jingle All the Way? Some of you watched that one twice, I’m sure). Vince Vaughn is very charming and fun to watch in movies. He’s so puffy I MEAN FUNNY! There are lots of wacky characters. Who doesn’t love wacky characters?! Probably the best of the four Christmases is when they go to Vince Vaughn’s hippy mom’s house, where his former best friend from childhood is now her boyfriend and trying to play step-dad to Vince Vaughn and meanwhile his UFC brother is staring at him while eating chicken wings and then they play Balderdash or something. It’s a good scene. Very funny. Did you know that April from Eastbound and Down is in this movie? Hello!
Sure, it is somewhat corny and entirely predictable, and there are plenty of very dumb moments in it and things that don’t make sense (like would a woman really carry a pregnancy test in her bag to Christmas and would her sister find that pregnancy test and for no real reason just take it on a whim and then fight a child in an inflatable bounce castle to get that pregnancy test back but also the inflatable bouncy castle is supposedly her greatest fear even though she is a full grown adult because one time she was a kid in a bouncy castle and something happened or something? Doubtful on all counts!) but whatever. How mad do you really want to get about a holiday romantic comedy that has a couple of genuine laughs in it and very little product placement (other than Balderdash)? Save your energy! You’re going to need it for the feats of strength!
Jon Favreau is very good at playing a big fat jerk, WHO KNEW?!
Here is the thing that does bother me about this movie, though: the world does not need an argument against grown adults choosing to live their lives outside of society’s expectations when it comes to marriage and children. Like, just to give you a sense of how firmly ingrained our communal dedication to those social pillars is, despite the fact that divorce rates are through the roof and the “sanctity of marriage” has been tarnished by Who Wants To Marry a Plastic Surgeon’s Knife and whatever else kind of garbage, people still get married and divorced and have kids and kill them ALL THE TIME. The needle is just not moving in any significant way on that. Don’t worry, HOLLYWOOD. The point is: to present a mature, happy, adult couple who has decided to live their lives in a manner that they have chosen based on all the knowledge in the world (remember, these are college-educated urbanites, pretty sure they’ve got their facts straight on what’s what in this world) we don’t need to present them as foolish and misguided and missing out on something that they and we already know all about. That shit is WELL COVERED. They’re doing what they want to do! Leave them alone!
I’m open to the idea that people who do live their lives according to an anti-marriage belief system can definitely come around to the opposite side of things if presented with the right person and the right circumstances, but I am not sure that those circumstances entail an exhausting day of deeply uncomfortable family visits. Like, what? Movie magic, I guess.
To reiterate: we all have families, all families are weird, but most of them are also kind of great, and Vince Vaughn is good at his job, so let’s just do the work of being alive in a world of inter-dependent human beings and try our best all things considered to enjoy what we have as often as possible but this week especially. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!