I wouldn’t exactly say that FOUR CHRISTMASES is a deep movie with any hidden messages that you can’t find in standard Christmas movies, but one message that does come across quite well is that families can ruin even the best relationships. It doesn’t matter how normal or crazy your family is; once you introduce them into your personal relationship, it will never be the same.
Such is the case with Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon), who are stuck visiting their families on Christmas when their flight gets canceled. Both sets of parents are divorced, which leads to four obligations and four separate Christmases. Neither of them are big on their own family nor do they have any interest in starting their own. They’re happy with their lives and the freedom they’re afforded by not having any commitments or obligations. But their lives take a change when they’re forced to confront their families and decide what they really want from each other.
And that’s where the film takes a sharp 90 degree turn. We were doing pretty well in the beginning and I was really getting into the jokes and the awkwardness that Christmas can sometimes create, but I was far less interested in the relationship drama between Brad and Kate. About halfway through the third Christmas, we started focusing on the drama between them and less on the humorous situations. I knew they would have to address their relationship at some point, but I was hoping they’d do it with less drama. The Christmas humor was really hitting home with me and I wanted them to continue it throughout the film.
With that in mind, I laughed pretty hard in the beginning as Brad and Kate were forced to bond together against their families. I’ve been in similar situations where there’s just nothing you can do to get away from the awkwardness and everything is magnified because it’s Christmas. The film would have been so much better if they had taken that notion and ran with it. Each Christmas was more opportunity to touch on another aspect of the holiday season that people dread every year.
Unfortunately, that usually seems to be the downfall of most Christmas films; they start strong and then get sidetracked. I will give FOUR CHRISTMASES credit for not trying to cram a deeper meaning down our throats. The importance of family was implied, but they didn’t focus on it to an obnoxious degree. Dwelling too much on a deeper theme can also plague holiday films and I was happy they avoided that pitfall here. It’s not that kind of movie and they seemed to understand that.
In the end, FOUR CHRISTMASES is a cute romantic comedy sandwiched in a Christmas movie. If you can relate to some of the situations Brad and Kate go through, you’ll probably get a kick out of some of the gags, especially in the beginning. It will throw some cheap laughs at you, but manages to offer enough good tidings to make up for it.