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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Everett (Mulroney) takes his "uptight" city girlfriend Meredith (SJP)
home to meet his family for Christmas. His family turns out to be the
biggest bunch of fake, hypocritical, horrible and judgemental people
you'll ever meet and have decided, even without meeting Meredith, that
she's unworthy of any hospitality.
Let's think - boyfriend brings you home to meet the family anyone would feel nervous. However, when Meredith greets the family in a slightly shaky voice, it is only further proof that she's not "free-spirited" enough to join their happy clan in the hills. I'm not sure why exactly the family did not like her but I THINK it may have something to do with the fact that she was super polite and tried to be respectful. I mean, no doubt, the family would have accepted her in a sec if she pranced through the door, ripped her clothes off and asked them to join her around the fire to smoke pot.
The horrible sister Amy (McAdams) says she hates Meredith because Meredith once took her to a nice restaurant and she also likes to clear her throat. Let's remind Meredith to bring Amy to a back alley for dinner next time and keep the phlegm gargled at the back of her mouth. The mother (Keaton) joins in the fun as is also, horrible; Ben (Wilson), the hippie brother falls for Meredith at first sight (so we can assume that his love for her is shallow and only physical) and starts hitting on her despite the fact that she's his brother's girlfriend. Etc.
There's also the gay deaf brother who has a black boyfriend. This very brother tells Everett straight on "please don't marry her (Meredith)" although he has known the girl for less than 24 hours. You'd think he'd understand the importance of being supportive and non-judgemental
Meredith eventually calls her sister Julie (Danes) in for help. Julie is the opposite of Meredith - she's free spirited and is probably the president of the "save the whales while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro" club (She falls off the bus and she doesn't even care!!). Everett falls for her at first sight (so again, we assume this is only physical because he knows nothing about her). Way to go Everett, fall for your girlfriend's sister on the day you plan to propose to her!! Immediately, the family flocks to Julie like flies to a carcass while Meredith is helping with dinner and is lonerised in the corner. At the dinner table (and this is the scene which made me so upset for Meredith that I ACTUALLY cried), Julie asks the gay brother questions about what race he wants his adopted child to be (since he's in an interracial relationship). Julie touches on the issue of race and everyone smiles, giving it the "that's a very good profound question" nod. Then Meredith brings up the topic of homosexuality, asking if he thinks it's going to affect the child. OK, maybe she didn't phrase it well but it was obvious she was NOT being a homophobe (If she WAS homophobic, would she be eating dinner with 2 gay men AND spend the entire afternoon with the gay black guy in the kitchen??). Meredith is surprised by the fact that the mother says she "wished all 3 of her children would be gay" and the family immediately labels her as the disgusting narrow-minded a-hole (yes and the father even yells at Meredith). Funny that, When Julie asks, the family sees her as being "curious and interested" but when Meredith asks, she's "offensive and rude".
Naturally, Meredith runs out in tears. Ben runs after her while the BOYFRIEND just sits there. Julie doesn't look too bothered either and instead of seriously looking for her, the two end up having a pleasant little walk in the snow, talking about their dreams and goals. It's disparing that Ben, the brother who's known Meredith for only a couple of days seems to be more concerned about her well-being than her own boyfriend and sister. Everett even has the audacity to ask Julie if she wants to "go get a coffee" while Meredith is still missing!!! Meredith spends time with Ben, get a coupla beers and suddenly turns "free-spirited" (she lets her hair down!! REBEL!) Then we know what happens, they end up in the same room (though they don't sleep together) and Everett realizes he loves Julie. Everett tries to get Julie to try on the wedding ring he intended to give Meredith. When Julie kinda refuses, he almost forces it onto her finger...romantic. I find it even more disturbing though, that as a sister, Julie didn't go up to Meredith and say something like "dude, your boyfriend is totally hitting on me". Instead, she starts to feel that she also loves this strange man that she's just met the day before (though there is no indication of any type of relationship development between the two. Finally, everyone confronts everyone and then follows the typical, everyone starts fighting, they all fall down and start laughing out loud together and then it seems that all the meaness from before is forgotten and everyone becomes best friends forever.
Meredith ends up with Ben and Everett the a-hole ends up with Julie the a-hole. Meredith seems to be TOTALLY OK with that and neither the sister or Everett seems to feel bad at all (note, the two began flirting with each other while Meredith was still going out with Everett). Who cares, Meredith will have the joy of telling her nephews and nieces "I, your auntie, slept with your father".
And inbetween all of this, we find out the mother has breast cancer. So there's a lot of crying from the family, then a lot of meaness, then a lot of crying, then a lot of, you get the idea. I'm still confused as to how the cancer bit fits with the "romantic comedy"
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.
I was sure that I would enjoy this movie, given its stellar cast and
funny trailer. I thought it would be a heartwarming movie about
misunderstandings and the mutual awkwardness of meeting your in-laws.
What the trailers left out was the fact that the family hates their prospective daughter-in-law Meredith without ever giving her a chance. That they are irritating people who use their gay deaf son and his black husband to bait outsiders into saying or doing presumably bigoted things. (I'm fine with the fact that diversity is represented here, but I hate how dialogue about that diversity is squelched instead of brought out.) That despite their violent hatred toward intolerance, they are some of the most deeply prejudiced, intolerant, vicious, unsympathetic people of all. And their prideful malice is directed toward an obviously insecure woman with no real faults other than being overly concerned about making a good impression. Let's get one thing straight. Having annoying tics does not make someone a bad person. Being uptight does not make someone a bad person (think Monica on Friends).
Throughout the movie I was waiting for Meredith to get her comeuppance, like Ben Stiller's character does in Meet the Parents. It never really comes. Instead, she learns to be more like them, and they basically get away with what they want. The lesson is, gang up on people who are different than you, and they'll come around.
I truly want to know why some people have such nice things to say about this movie. None of the characters is likable or even realistic. They are rude and unfriendly to whomever they want, and cloyingly sweet and warm with each other. They judge the new girl based on appearances and social class, and make no attempt to hide it. And the women especially are cliquish, bullying, belittling, and can strip down any shred of self-worth she may feel. And the cruelest of them all is played by Rachel McAdams.
Wait a minute, this is starting to sound familiar ...
I totally agree with The Unemployed Critic that the trailers (and the poster) for "The Family Stone" are misleading, and ultimately an insult to the film. My husband and I are cinema addicts, but the trailers convinced us that we could live without another silly and predictable "clash of family cultures" movie. Fortunately the good-to-glowing reviews in American and Australian papers encouraged us to at least give the film a chance. We were rewarded with great writing and acting, lots of laughs and some tears. "The Family Stone" was my favourite of the many movies we saw over the Holidays -- but we almost missed out on it, due to bad Marketing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Watching this film was like shooting yourself in the head, having the
spurting blood spell out "The Family Stone" in drippy writing, and then
having to carry on living in complete agony and brain-deadness. I need
to emphasise how shocked I am at the absurdly high average review
rating, but I should qualify my comments with some evidence. I could
probably do a minute-by-minute massacre of this film (yes, EVERY minute
was worth a good napalming), but for the sake of the readers, I'll keep
it brief, and in order of heinousness: 1)This film may have been
sponsored by the KKK for the extent to which it manages to undermine
good "liberal" qualities. The whole point of liberalism is accepting
that people may have an opposing values to your own without thinking
they should be hanged for holding such views. The family's
unrealistically immediate hatred of Meredith and their cruel treatment
of her when she has done nothing to actively offend them is totally
incongruous with the pot-smoking Benetton models that formed the
family. 2) Why in God's name would you want your child to be gay? Why
would you actively WANT your child to be ANYTHING?? Its logically as
bigoted to say that you wish for gay children as if you said you
absolutely didn't want your children to be gay. You wish for happy
children, regardless of their sexual orientation. 3)Sarah Jessica
Parker was completely unable to break out of her Sex and the City
character, which meant that when she was acting uptight, it seemed
completely unbelievable. Her supposedly 'drunken' scene was some of the
worst acting I've ever seen. It was like the popular girl at school
being in a school play, acting drunk but not doing any of the
embarrassing things (i.e. slurring, very BAD dancing) that would
actually make the drunkenness realistic, for fear of looking bad.
4)Stupid formulae, which are completely condescending to the audience.
e.g. At the beginning, Meredith = uptight = hair scraped back in
bun...BUT at the end...Meredith = more relaxed/in love = hair loose and
down 5)Horrible script trying to be like Royal Tenenbaums type of
quirky but completely failing. Does any mother ever comment to a
complete stranger that a certain guy has 'popped' her daughter's
'cherry' in front of said daughter? Come on. Why does laid-back Ben
fall in love with Meredith - because he wants a challenge or because he
dreams of 'being the snow' that Meredith shovels. Oooh how arty. Eat my
shorts. 6)Meredith's sister and the fiancé are a pair of whores who
think they're lives should mimic some stupid French novel where people
fall in love over a schmaltzy story set in some country where people
are foreign and therefore can be patronised (that would be us, viewer).
And you can swoon over the fact that Meredith's sister is such a great
person that she'll come to the Stone family home to comfort her
completely terrorised sister - what a catch. Oh, except that she's a
complete cow who takes her sister's fiancé (regardless of her three
minute hesitation) and doesn't go out to see if her sister's OK when
they hear her car crash in the driveway. Twice. Hmmmmm. (And her hair
is far too shiny)
So disappointing...the worst film I've EVER EVER seen
Having seen the previews on a number of occasions I went to see this film because I was in the mood for a comedy. I guess the preview were all of the funny scenes. However, this turned out to be one of the most touching and sensitive movies I have seen in quite some time. The family stone could be almost anyones family and especially mine. The funny scenes were truly that, funny and very believable, one liners you wish you had said. The acting was first rate, I most enjoyed Diane Keaton and Craig Nelson. The movie moves along well with no dead time and while it is predicable in its storyline with no big surprises it is a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. You get your moneys worth.
Thomas Bezucha's 'The Family Stone' surprised me. I expected a catty WASPish family satire that, at least, was the impression given in most reviews. I liked this a great deal. The discomfort felt by Sarah Jessica Parker's uptight career girl as she spends Christmas with her partner's close-knit New England liberal family is used to good effect, but as much awkwardness is felt as a result of their jibes as by her tactlessness, so she's not marked out solely as a stooge. Dermot Mulroney, Rachel McAdams (the best thing in Wes Craven's 'Red Eye'), Luke Wilson (a much better actor than brother Owen) and Diane Keaton also give fine turns, and Craig T. Nelson - another much underrated character actor is perfectly cast Keaton's husband. It's occasionally sentimental, as certain family secrets are revealed, but never in a sickly manner, and works principally because it's that rare Hollywood beast, a genuinely well written ensemble piece. Good work Mr Bezucha. Worth a look.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can't even impart in words how truly abysmal this film is. And I had
low expectations going in. I figured it would just be some goofy stupid
and slightly girlier version of MEET THE PARENTS. Wholesome and stupid
family fun. Everybody is happy. family values get rienforced. Like an
Episode of SEVENTH HEAVEN on a Hollywood budget...just without the
No. No. What was there was so much more awful.
SPOILERS WITHIN!!! Lemme set it up for ya. So SARAH JESSICA PARKER is a self conscious high-class business executive with the social skills of an outcasted nerdy middle schooler who was kept in a closet and fed gruel. She is dating Dermut Mulroney and is going to visit his family for Christmas. BUT WAIT! DERMUT's FAMILY is the most screwd-up and liberal bunch of hippies on the planet! THE Dad (TV'S COACH!)and the son (LUKE Wilson!) totally smoke pot together, And the daughter is a serious intellectual (we know this because she has a backpack from NPR. Man, NPR backpacks= super self-righteous hippies), And One of the sons is (GET THIS!) A Deaf Gay man with a Black Partner (Oh SO Taboo! Unless you have watched 'IN THE COMPANY OF MEN' By Neil Labute or have .5 brain-cells.). HOW WILL SARAH-Jessica Deal with THE FAMILY STONE? She's so stuck up and anti social and Unlikeable! The family is far too liberal for her. they won't possibly like her.
AND SHE'S RIGHT! The entire family already decided that she is horrid and stuck up before she even walks into the door and treat her like garbage, by not making her the slightest bit welcome in their home for Christmas for no apparent reason other than the fact that they are complete Jerks! But don't worry! Luke Wilson (the stoner brother) falls in love with Sarah Jessica and treats her like the woman she should be. And Durmont Mulrony isn't even ANGRY because He just asked SARAH JESSICA'S sister CLAIRE DANES (why are you in this film?) TO marry him even though he has only known her for under 12 hours. So its okay. Nobodys mad. And wouldn't ya know it?! DIANE KEATON has breast cancer for apparent reason. And She likes to show off the huge scars on her chest where they cut off her breasts. Thats not massively disturbing or entirely uncalled for especially since they deal with Cancer in the most uninelligent way possible.
Thats not even all of it. They have a bunch of retarded Polltically Correct conversations about homosexuality that might only be controversial and not utter garbage to the religious right (who will most likely disregard it anyway). This film is insulting to Liberals, Homosexuals, People with cancer, Families, people with brains, etc. etc. Seriously I think this film joins the ranks of the TOP 10 WORST FILMS ever.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just finished watching this film on my On Demand. I had to rewind,
stop, and start the movie 3 times because I thought OnDemand was
deleting scenes. THAT'S how ridiculous, unbelievable, and choppy this
movie is. I really thought we lost the first half-hour or so, because
SJP enters the Stone family household, and they immediately hate her. I
thought, oh, well we must have missed the huge lead-in to that. NO!
There was no lead-in. The family just flat-out hated the girlfriend of
their son for no reason at all. Once I realized we didn't miss the
first few scenes, I knew this movie would be disastrous.
It actually gets worse! The entire family is too large that by the end of it, I still couldn't figure out who was related to who (who was that 6 year old anyway????) They did not need such a large cast and I did not get to know ANY of the characters or get to like ANY of them at all, except Luke Wilson, who was sweet. (by the way, I have to call the actors by their real names and not their character's names, because I don't even think we were introduced to all of them by first name.) One of the women (I guess she was a daughter???) her husband showed up for a total of 16 seconds of the movie. The film is so degrading even though it is trying to be politically correct. They make such a huge scene around the deaf son and his black husband that it completely goes against whatever P.C. statement they were trying to make.
I can't even get into how ridiculous and utterly disturbing the 2 romances are. And I forgot about the cancer!! That came out of left field. All of a sudden the evil mother has cancer, however we're still making SJP feel like crap because that's more important. This was an extremely inappropriate look at someone suffering from cancer. Besides that, it did not add to the plot line at all, and instead complicated the story even more so than I ever thought this mess could be complicated.
This film is such a completely tangled mess of untied plot lines, undeveloped characters, and no real genre that it just leaves you feeling MAD you spent any type of money on it at all. I also feel sorry for Rachel McAdams and Luke Wilson -- I'm sure they regret their decision to act in this disaster after seeing the final product. Avoid at all costs.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For some reason I thought this movie would be similar to The Royal Tenenbaums - a story about a lovable, charming, quirky, odd family coming into contact with an uptight professional wardrobe queen. Excellent set up, right?
But the movie starts going downhill from the very first minute, never gets better, and left me wondering why all these otherwise decent actors chose to associate themselves with such an awful, awful script.
Nothing that happens in this movie makes any sense. Now, for something to "make sense" in a movie, it doesn't have to be "realistic." You can believe a winged dragon is going to jump in and save the day at the very end as long as - and this is key here - that point is set up earlier in the script. By establishing characters' motivations and history, the audience will slowly clue into the crux moments of the script where those characters have to make decisions - based on their past experiences - that influence the outcome of the film.
There wasn't one character in this movie that had any background information established before they started making "key" decisions. Things happened, and the audience watches, uninterested, because from the very beginning of the film we aren't given any reason to care.
The Stone family hates Durmot Mulroney's fiancée, played by SJP. The audience has no idea why, because the film never sets up any organic reason for it. The characters merely EXPLAIN reasons they don't like her, which does not a movie make.
Halfway through the film we're clued into the fact that mom has cancer. If this was supposed to be a pinnacle moment, it merely further confuses the plot, as the audience is left wondering why, if someone in the family were about to die, everyone would be so trifling and petty.
Enter Claire Danes. Again, for no reason. From the moment she clumsily falls off the bus line that drags her into the Stones' life, acting as the complete opposite of her uptight sister, we see the plot "thickening" so obviously that I was tempted to fast forward through the obligatory sentimental conversations that had to follow, wherein Durmot Mulroney sees Danes' sensitive side ("I'm an art grant writer... and this totem pole touched me so deeply.")
It's almost an afterthought that he falls in love with Danes, Luke Wilson marries SJP, and the next Christmas everyone lives happily ever after except mom whose dead (but who really cares anyway).
What made this movie especially bad was the "Home Alone"-esquire music that forced joviality at moments when the Stone family was trifling, a horrible section of Christmas-gone- horribly-awry pratfalls (wherein the entire family gets covered in eggs and turkey in the kitchen, ha ha ha).
However, the hands-down worst part of this film were the shallow characters. Diane Keaton's mother was defined by coffee: she had a favorite mug and she hated it when people took the last coffee and didn't make more. Rachel McAdams (as the sister) was supposed to be a liberal college-type, but was nothing except a basketful of laundry and an NPR logo gives this away. (Otherwise she's just a petty brat.) Luke Wilson's character is utterly confusing - at first he's rather creepy (forcing his affections on SJP), then he's a pot- head with a Love and Rockets poster in his room, then he's a doting husband.
And worst of all is Durmot Mulroney, whose character development (or lack thereof) the movie centers on. What we finally begin to understand, only through horrible dialog, is that The Family Stone doesn't want Durmot Mulroney to marry SJP because he isn't being "true to himself." If this would have been at all clear in any kind of set-up to the movie, perhaps, perhaps The Family Stone could have had a bit of redemption. As it is, it did not, and therefore this movie is one of the absolute worst films of all time.
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