It's always been my understanding that holiday movies are supposed to reinforce belief in the elusive "Christmas Miracle"-the same phenomenon behind George Bailey' redemption and the lingering hope Tara Reid still has for her career. Though The Family Stone
is filled with at least three scenarios that can be described as miraculous, none redeem the film as a worthy comedic seasonal distraction. But as a pre-Christmas exercise, let' examine those miracles together:
Miracle #1: The Harmonious Liberal Family.
The premise of The Family Stone
is Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) brings his tightly wound prospective fiancée, Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker), home for Christmas to meet the rest of his clan. As soon as the Stones are introduced, however, one realizes that no family as diverse as this could ever get along so well-and all suspension of disbelief immediately vanishes. There is the sickly matriarch (Diane Keaton); the enlightened dad (Craig T. Nelson), who seems totally fine expressing love to his deaf, gay son' effeminate black life partner; there' the NPR-tote carrying troublemaker baby sister (Rachel McAdams); an older sister, who embraces the traditional pregnant mom and wife role (Elizabeth Reaser) and the pot-smoking Cali-based documentarian younger brother (Luke Wilson). Among the many things the Stones agree on is that Everett is making the wrong choice and there must be something deeper to his decision.
Miracle #2: Men Willing To Marry Just About Anyone.
Along with the Stones, the viewer can't help but imagine why Everett would want to marry Meredith, the Anti-Carrie Bradshaw who wears her hair in a bun, is adorned in only grey and black and is seemingly devoid of humor. We soon find out he' hoping to attain the ultimate Christmas miracle-that the "good" news of his engagement will prolong his ailing mother' life. But once Meredith' sister, Julie (Claire Danes), arrives and dazzles Everett with her free-spirited ways, he soon realizes he' with the wrong sibling. Coincidentally, Meredith, is suddenly set loose after a single night out drinking with Ben (Wilson). This leads us to miracle #3.
Miracle #3: Swapping Sisters Is Possible.
The climax of the movie involves both Stone brothers (the heterosexual, non-deaf ones) realizing that opposites do indeed attract and "complete them," so obviously Meredith hooks up long-term with the aloof Ben, while Everett macks with Julie. What does Mom think of all this? Well, let' just say, we're sure she' smiling down on everyone.
Miracles can be funny, but in The Family Stone
, the shmaltz factor overpowers the already tepid humor. For all the diversity of the kin, more biting jokes could have been made at their expense. Hey, isn't that what family is for?