The Family Stone (2005)
USA / English
"Feel The Love.
"An uptight, conservative, businesswoman accompanies her boyfriend to his eccentric and outgoing family's annual Christmas celebration and finds that she's a fish out of water in their free-spirited way of life.
Talented actors have fun with a familiar premise
The premise of "The Family Stone" sounds a little shopworn: Everett
Stone brings his uptight girlfriend Meredith home for Christmas to meet
his large family, who instantly dislike her. Even worse, the trailer
reveals most of the plot's complications. However, this premise has
been used so often because it reliably provides opportunities for
comedy, drama, and insight into family dynamics. "The Family Stone"
proves itself a better-than-average example of the genre because of its
talented cast and reasonably intelligent script.
Sarah Jessica Parker's presence ensures that Meredith always remains
sympathetic, even when we can also perfectly understand why she
irritates the Stones. The various Stones-- Diane Keaton, Craig T.
Nelson, Dermot Mulroney, Rachel McAdams, Luke Wilson--make the most of
their roles, and, more importantly, they really do start to seem like a
family, not a random collection of actors. The only actor who fails to
make an impression is Claire Danes, who can't do much with the
underwritten role of Meredith's sister Julie.
"The Family Stone" is not a groundbreaking movie, but it goes beyond
the fish-out-of-water clichés that its plot might suggest. It finds the
emotional truth, as well as the humor, in Meredith's situation. Plus,
it's extremely evenhanded: all of the characters are flawed but
likable, and in a climactic argument at the dinner table, both Meredith
and Sibyl make valid points. Reviewers on this site have accused the
movie of pushing a liberal agenda via its sympathetic portrayal of an
interracial gay couple and a semi-bohemian family--and of pushing a
conservative agenda via its portrayal of the Stones as hypocritical
liberals who pay lip service to tolerance but are prejudiced against
people like Meredith. Personally, I'm not sure if "The Family Stone"
has any agenda, other than to cast good actors in a holiday
comedy-drama that doesn't insult its audience's intelligence. And it
succeeds pretty well at that.
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