6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Like a rock,
This review is from: The Family Stone  [DVD] (DVD)
No, "Family Stone" isn't about the legendary funk band. Or the legendary rock band. Maybe it would have been more fun if it had been -- even if it wouldn't exactly be a heartlukewarming Christmas picture, with the required happy (and sad) endings, and all the characters one would expect in a twenty-first-century "family" movie.
Staid yuppie Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) is about to pop the question to his uptight girlfriend Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker), using the "family stone," an heirloom engagement ring. But when he takes her to visit his family for Christmas, it turns out that his sister has managed to poison the entire clan against his might-be-fiancee.
Soon abusing Meredith has become the family's new pasttime, and even Everett is starting to have second thoughts about proposing. Meredith's only confidantes are her sister (Claire Danes) and Everett's easygoing brother (Luke Wilson). Tension builds as Christmas approaches, and several surprising secrets come out...
Black comedies are always great if done right -- Wes Anderson's work is a prime example, with twisted, alienated families and the wrong words spoken at the right time. "Family Stone" aims for the same target, but misses -- it's simply too cruel and illogical to be funny or amusing. Even "Monster-In-Law" gave its cruel in-law a reason to be cruel.
Most of the humor comes from abusing Meredith, and if she were as twisted as the Stones seem to be, then it might be darkly amusing. But she seems nice, if stiff, and so there are no laughs, especially since the Stones have no reason to dislike her. They welcome Patrick, their deaf son's boyfriend, so why not Meredith? Because her hair is pinned back too tightly?
Woven in are bits of necessary family drama: pregnancy, tangled romances, cancer to throw in a bit of pathos, and characters who serve no real purpose in the script except to fill dinner table chairs. It's overwritten and overly self-conscious; it plumbs as many family cliches as it can, and then takes them over the top.
And whose idea was it to have boyfriend-stealing portrayed as okay?
What saves "Family Stone" from being another tired holiday movie? Individual performances: Diane Keaton and Rachel McAdams, despite the thinness of their characters, are a joy to watch. Parker gives a decent performance, and Wilson gives a surprisingly charming performance as Ben, with a whiff of pot and a lazy smile.
"Family Stone" suffers from an illogical storyline and a busload of cliches, but is redeemed somewhat by performances by the lead actors. Otherwise, it's not a family you want to visit.
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Initial post: 14 Oct 2011 19:18:21 BDT
Last edited by the author on 14 Oct 2011 19:21:55 BDT
Thinness of characters for Keaton & McAdams, really...! I have to disagree, sorry, the depth of each character is added by a subtle touch so that you find yourself surprised that you know them quite well. The combination of each actor (although I have always had a soft spot for Keaton) really made this film for me. The story had me laughing out loud at times. It's not for someone expecting a one dimensional comedy but this is well worth a watch for anyone interested in an alternative to the typical gush of family/Christmas slops usually dished out for the seasonal period. It's at least above average, but personally is a cracker! lol
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