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Starring: Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Jon Voight, Jon Favreau, Dwight Yoakam

Director: Seth Gordon

Screenplay: Matt Allan, Caleb Wilson

Cinematography: Jeffrey L. Kimball

Original Score: Alex Wurman

Running Time: 82 Mins.

Vince Vaughan, it seems, is now the go-to guy for a lead in your festive family romp at this most joyous (re: cheesy) time of year! Last Christmas saw him play Santa’a titular brother in Fred Claus, alongside Paul Giamatti and this year he heads up a long roster of stars with Reese Witherspoon as his much more attractive other half. The basic premise is, couple attempt to escape the inevitable ires of family Christmases with each of their divorced parents by heading to Fiji, fog ensues, planes can’t fly and the inevitable happens, the four families must be visited upon. Along the way lessons are learned, it turns out Vince and Reese know very little about the other and we discover the moral of how their is no better way to spend Christmas than with the family, and having kids is good….blah blah blah!

Cliched is an understatement for this film and in all honesty anyone wishing to see it will know that from the off. Plot is pretty much inconsequential, it could quite easily be called Four Families or Divorced Parents. But that wouldn’t have quite the same ring would it! And as Christmas is very loosely hung around the proceedings like a very un-subtle tinsel, we learn the true value of family just in case you ddin’t already know! So what it rests on, like any film falling into the ‘cliched message movie’ bracket, is the script and actors, problem is there is a real lack of both.

The script is schmaltzy and best smattered with the odd laugh, and cringeworthy at worst. Independently Witherspoon and Vaughn have the potential to be great comic actors (see Legally Blonde and Wedding Crashers) but sufer from the off, a severe lack of chemistry kills any belief in them as a couple and the size difference between them is just plain odd, in fact Vaughn looks like hes eaten himself he’s that big! The rest of the starry roster appear for about 10 minutes screen time each at the most with Jon Voight given the least to do, seemingly he was brought in to deliver the moral.

I have to admit as a Vince Vaughn fan I had hopes that this could balance the schmaltz with his unique brand of sarcastic humour, and it is present but the script doesn’t give him nearly enough moments with no scene truly standing out, his scenes with pal Jon Favreau should have at least been memorable but are reduced to bad phisical humour involving UFC fighting of all things!

VERDICT 

There might be half a good Christmas amongst the four, with it occasionally dancing near a darker brand of humour you can see the potential this had, if  not to quite break the mould, but sit in it nicely. As it is it’ll do….but only because there are no other Christmas films out!

grade-d

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