Among the annual onslaught of holiday movies, Four Christmases, directed by Seth Gordon, stands out as a laughter and swoon-evoking gem.
Four Christmases is a romantic holiday comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon as Brad and Kate, a couple that refuses to conform to the conventions of marriage and having children.
Every year at Christmas time, Brad and Kate shirk their responsibilities of seeing their families by lying and telling them that they are doing community service overseas in underdeveloped nations, when they are really going on tropical vacations. Their plan is ruined, however, when all of the flights are cancelled and they are forced to visit their families for Christmas day.
The movie's title comes from Brad and Kate's predicament of being forced to endure not just two but four Christmases with two sets of divorced parents.
The first house they go to is Brad's father's house. This character, played by Robert Duvall, is a rough-around-the-edges dad with two other sons, Denver and Dallas, both of whom are tough, fighter-types played by Jon Favreau and Tim McGraw.
Hilarity ensues when the couple then visits Kate's mother's house. Kate describes it as a so-called "cougar den," soon after confirmed as her mother, grandmother and sister all start coming on to Brad from the moment he walks into the door.
Kate's sister Courtney, played by Kristin Chenoweth of "Wicked" and "Pushing Daisies" fame, is a sprightly blonde who winds up being the voice of reason throughout the film.
After spending time with her family's children, Kate's biological clock starts ticking and she finds herself longing for a marriage and a family, which is everything Brad does not want. Consequently, a fight between the two characters forces each to examine what they really want from the relationship.
While the movie's plot was somewhat predictable, it succeeds in providing a heart-warming story mixed with laughs and charming characters.
The irony and subsequent allure of the film is that the audience is made to feel like it is a movie about not wanting to be around your family during the holidays, while it turns out to reinforce the importance of family during these times.
If viewers are in the market for a light, entertaining movie to see with a significant other, family member or friend, Four Christmases is the perfect selection for the holiday season.