Oh Reese Witherspoon, you poor thing. Have things gotten that bad? Has Jake Gyllenhaal warped your good taste in movie roles? After all, you did just win an Oscar a few years ago. I am going to go out on a limb and deduce that the creators of “Four Christmases” slipped you some hard drugs before they handed you the script.
The film opens with couple, Brad (Vaughn) and Kate (Witherspoon) planning an escape to Fiji instead of spending the holidays with their highly unbalanced relatives. However, plans go awry when a mysterious fog cancels all the flights and a television reporter captures the couple on camera, exposing their situation to the world, but more importantly, their families.
Before you can say canned cranberry, Brad and Kate are off the tackle all of their kin (four families to be exact) before the end of the night so they can catch a flight to Fiji the next morning. The dysfunction varies from white trash brothers (Jon Favreau) to Christian cougars (Mary Steenburgen) to unconventional divorcees (Sissy Spacek). All of which is meant to be funny but none of it is.
Talk about a waste of a great cast. Mary Steenburgen, Jon Favreau, Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Jon Voight all make extended cameos to little effect. Witherspoon actually remains rather blank throughout the entire thing, as if she’s been kidnapped and lobotomized by the scientology folks (leave her be, Tom Cruise, you have Katie!) and Witherspoon and Vaughn have no chemistry on-screen. Surprisingly, Vince Vaughn does walk away with some funny moments. In a movie like this, it is clear he has a wonderful and warm comedic presence that can still shine through even the worst of films.
Still, it’s Seth Gordon’s pedestrian direction and Matt Allen’s witless script that makes this a true Thanksgiving turkey. Let’s face it, without this all-star cast, “Four Christmases” would have been a made for TV movie. Maybe that wouldn’t have been too bad. At least then it could mildly amuse us without stealing our ten dollars.