Saturday, December 20, 2008

"Four Christmases" not bad

It may surprise you to learn that I do not see every movie that comes out. Indianapolis gets about five to six new movies every week, and I see about half. Some I see for work, some I see because I want to, and some I skip entirely.

There consists another category: flicks I kinda wanted to see, but not bad, and unless the wife and I make an effort to go, we're probably going to miss it.

"Four Christmases" falls into this latter category. We went to see it last night at the theater about five minutes (if that) from our house, and I was pleasantly surprised. Motormouthed Vince Vaughn stole the show with his hyper-fast spiel.

I wonder how much of what he says is actually in the script, and how much is ad-libbed. There's no way any writer could mimic Vaughn's stream-of-consciousness routine, so I have to believe the script serves as the bones, and he adds layers upon it.

Reese Witherspoon, who's usually such a distinct screen presence, kind of ends up on the vanilla side here. She's the girlfriend, she has issues with her parents too, but compared to Vaughn she's just the sidekick.

And what a cast as the parents: Robert Duvall, Mary Steenburgen, Sissy Spacek and Jon Voight -- Oscar winners, all. It's interesting how some big-name actors reach a certain age and just disappear, while others slide comfortably into grandparent/wise man roles. It seems like Voight's in every other thriller these days, playing some bureaucratic tool who lays down the law. A good example of an actor currently transitioning from leading to supporting roles is Dustin Hoffman.

Anyway, "Four Christmases" is certainly not a great movie, but it's fairly funny and the gooey parts don't last too long.

2.5 stars out of four

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