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Four Christmases (2008) Print E-mail
Monday, 30 November 2009
ImageI think we were all hoping that this was going to be the next great Christmas movie.  Unfortunately, the film is not.  In fact, it doesn’t come anywhere close to a “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” type quality film.  As a matter of fact it falls way below any expectations that may have been set for a holiday comedy.

If you have visited any of my past reviews, you will know that I don’t have any tolerance for Vince Vaughn.  All his parts are exactly the same.  He is a one-dimensional actor that is so easy to hate in everything he appears in.  On the other hand, there is Reese Witherspoon that I simply adore in everything that she appears.  Unfortunately, the sorry excuse for a script leaves Reese with nothing to work with.  Aside from those two lead actors, there is a plethora of bit parts played by a terrific cast.  Once again, all suffer from the lack of any character definition.

In “Four Christmases” Brad (Vaughn) and Kate (Witherspoon) are a couple that is content on being with each other with no prospect or inkling of marriage.  That is perfectly fine.  They loathe the holidays as each of them has divorced parents that they don’t want to visit.  Each year Brad and Kate make excuses to their families so that they can go on a tropical vacation.  This year happens to be Fiji.

Unfortunately, due to heavy fog, all flights at San Francisco airport are canceled.  When they are spotted on TV, all four parents demand to see them on Christmas.  The couple has no choice but to go.  Each parent is a complete cliché.  We have Brad’s father, who is a redneck, living in a shack with muscle-headed sons and their slew of children.  Then there is Brad’s mother who is a hippy that is involved with Brad’s best childhood find.  Next, Kate’s mother is involved with a preacher and her sister is a ditzy wacko.  To round it all out, there is Kate’s father, who is the normal adult of the bunch.

The entire film is slapstick humor that then attempts to turn serious.  The only thing to like about this film is Kristin Chenoweth.  Period.

“Four Christmases” comes to Blu-ray with a typical New Line Cinema VC-1 encode.  As nearly always with New Line, the transfer is plagued by processes such as noise reduction and sharpening.  The noise reduction causes smearing of the image.  The sharpening causing some ringing.  That aside, the image is fairly decent.  Details and textures are intact and resolved.  Contrast is strong, though there are instances of fluctuation.  The black levels are above average, with only minor crushing.  The source print seems to be in good shape, though with the noise reduction it is difficult to tell.  This is a suitable image for the attention that viewers will be giving the film.
There is absolutely nothing special about this audio track.  The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track faithfully represents the source material.  As a conversational film, the audio is largely front heavy.  There are a handful sequences in which the surround channels are given something to do.  However, during these instances, directionality and panning is weak and haphazard.  Dialogue remains clear, but it not counterbalanced by good ambience.  The LFE channel is noticeably absent.  Dynamics are decent.  Overall, this is a predictable audio track that will go unnoticed by 99 percent of listeners.

This Blu-ray disc contains a handful of featurettes, that don’t exactly attract the viewer.  There is a collection of deleted scenes that might actually be better than what ended up in the final cut.  The deleted scenes are accompanied by a gag reel.  There are three featurettes.  “Seven Layer Holiday Meals in a Flash” is a cooking special with Paula Dean.  “Behind the Madness” is a behind the scenes feature that is fairly dull.  Lastly, “Holiday Moments” is more behind the scenes and interview footage.  The disc is also BD-Live enabled.

“Four Christmases” is one to skip.  This should be a horror film.  There are no laughs in the film, just shocking moments of how this film could have ever been pitched.

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