Four Christmases

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Four Christmases
Four Christmases-Movie Poster.PNG
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySeth Gordon
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Matt R. Allen
  • Caleb Wilson
Starring
Music byAlex Wurman
CinematographyJeffrey L. Kimball
Edited by
Production
company
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • November 26, 2008 (2008-11-26)
Running time
89 minutes
Country
  • Germany
  • United States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$80 million[1]
Box office$163.7 million[1]

Four Christmases (known as Four Holidays or Anywhere But Home in some territories) is a 2008 Christmas comedy-drama film about a couple visiting all four of their divorced parents' homes on Christmas Day. It stars Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon, with Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Robert Duvall, Jon Voight, Jon Favreau, Tim McGraw, Dwight Yoakam, and Kristin Chenoweth as supporting cast. The film is director Seth Gordon's first studio feature film.[2] The film is produced by New Line Cinema and Spyglass Entertainment and released by Warner Bros. Pictures on November 26, 2008, the day before Thanksgiving. It received generally negative reviews from critics and grossed $163 million worldwide.

Plot[edit]

Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) are an upscale San Francisco couple. Both come from dysfunctional families, with divorced parents and obnoxious siblings with out-of-control kids, so they disdain the idea of getting married or having kids. They try to avoid their families at Christmas by traveling abroad and pretending to be going there to do charity work. The third Christmas of their relationship, they plan to go to Fiji, but get trapped at San Francisco International Airport by a fog bank that cancels every outbound flight; they're also interviewed by a news crew, alerting their families that they're stuck at home for the holidays.

Kate and Brad realize they can't get out of visiting their families: Brad's father (Robert Duvall) first, then Kate's mother (Mary Steenburgen), then Brad's mother (Sissy Spacek), and finally, Kate's father (Jon Voight): four Christmases in one day. Bracing themselves for a marathon of homecomings, Brad and Kate expect the worst, but are still unable to prepare themselves quite enough. They keep discovering new secrets about each other they had previously been too embarrassed to share with each other, such as Brad's real name being "Orlando" and Kate's fear of inflatable castles that stemmed from being ostracized as a child, and these things strain their relationship. As Brad counts down the minutes to freedom, Kate studies the lives of Brad's and her own siblings and comes to realize that she does want marriage and children with Brad, the prospect of which frightens Brad when she mentions it to him. When they finally reach Kate's father's house, she asks Brad to let her go in alone; she gets out of the car and tells her family that she and Brad have split up. Meanwhile, Brad returns to his father's house and the two have a quiet talk alone, and Brad realizes that he wants marriage and children, and with Kate—he loves her too much to leave her. He returns to her and they discuss marriage and children. Then they finally head to Fiji.

On New Year's Day a year later, Brad and Kate welcome their first child, a daughter, after spending nine months hiding from their families. As theirs is the first baby born in the New Year, a news crew comes to congratulate them—once again revealing them, and their new baby, to the whole city... and their families.

Cast[edit]

One of the film's executive producers, Peter Billingsley, who had a starring role as Ralphie in the 1983 film A Christmas Story, has a credited role as an airline ticket agent.

Production[edit]

Gordon was brought in as director at the insistence of Vaughn, who had seen Gordon's documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, a film, Gordon points out, which, like Four Christmases, has a "traditional three-act structure".[2]

The film began production in December 2007, during the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, which meant that no changes could be made to the script.[2] During production New Line Cinema became a "unit of Warner Bros.",[3] which put the film's completion at risk.[2]

Reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 24% based on 144 reviews, and an average rating of 5.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Despite a strong cast, this sour holiday comedy suffers from a hackneyed script."[4] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a score of 41 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[5] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[6]

The Hollywood Reporter called the film "one of the most joyless Christmas movies ever" with "an unearned feel-good ending [that] adds insult to injury"; it criticized the film's script for "situat[ing] Hollywood clichés about Southern rednecks incongruously within the tony Bay Area".[7] Variety magazine called it an "oddly misanthropic, occasionally amusing but thoroughly cheerless holiday attraction that is in no way a family film".[8] The Associated Press said the film "began with some promise" then segued into "noisy joylessness [that] sets the tone for the whole movie"; the review noted that "Vaughn makes the movie tolerable here and there, but this kind of slapsticky physical comedy doesn't suit Witherspoon at all."[9] Frank Lovece of Film Journal International found "no core to their characters. They just embody whatever plot machination the movie needs at any given moment", and that, "Every predictable Christmas-comedy trope gets dragged out like the string of electric lights that is pulled from the wall to whipsaw through the living room".[10] Roger Ebert gave the film two stars out of four, and wrote his review in the style of a pitch session between a filmmaker and his boss, whereby he derided the film's alleged lack of humour or narrative sense.[11]

Box office[edit]

On its opening day, a Wednesday, it ranked second at the box office with $6.1 million, behind the previous week's new release blockbuster Twilight.[12] It then went on to take the top spot each successive day from Thursday to Sunday, earning $46.1 million and ranking #1 over the entire extended Thanksgiving holiday weekend.[13] In its second weekend, Four Christmases held on to the #1 spot, taking in another $18.1 million.[14]

The film grossed $120,146,040 domestically and $43,587,657 in foreign countries, for a worldwide gross of $163,733,697.

Home media[edit]

The DVD and Blu-ray Disc was released on November 24, 2009.

Soundtrack[edit]

Four Christmases: Music from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedNovember 25, 2008 (2008-11-25)
Length32:35
LabelNew Line (Digital)
Watertower Music (Audio)

Four Christmases: Music from the Motion Picture was originally available to download from Amazon (MP3) or iTunes (MPEG-4), along with a digital booklet in portable document format which summarizes the credits of the album along with screenshots and other promotional images of the film. It was released on November 25, 2008, by New Line Records. The compact disc format was released on October 6, 2009, by Watertower Music.

Track listing
  1. "Baby It's Cold Outside" by Dean Martin & Martina McBride – 2:55
  2. "(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays" by Perry Como – 2:51
  3. "Sleigh Ride" by Ferrante & Teicher – 2:16
  4. "Christmas All Over Again" by Tom Petty – 4:15
  5. "Season's Greetings" by Robbers On High Street – 2:23
  6. "Jingle Bell Rock" by Bobby Helms with The Anita Kerr Singers – 2:11
  7. "The Christmas Song" by Gavin DeGraw – 3:24
  8. "Cool Yule" by Louis Armstrong – 2:55
  9. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" by Dean Martin – 2:33
  10. "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby – 2:59
  11. "O Little Town of Bethlehem" by Sarah McLachlan – 3:53

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Four Christmases (2008)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-12-07.
  2. ^ a b c d King, Susan (November 2, 2008). "Their wishes finally came true". LA Times. Retrieved December 25, 2015.
  3. ^ "New Line Cinema to become unit of Warner Bros". Reuters. February 2008. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  4. ^ "Four Christmases (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-11-30.
  5. ^ "Four Christmases Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-11-30.
  6. ^ "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Four Christmases" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
  7. ^ "Bottom Line: A top-drawer cast in a bottom-drawer screenplay". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on December 2, 2008.
  8. ^ Review of Four Christmases from Variety magazine
  9. ^ Review: Four Christmases is zero fun, an Associated Press review via the San Francisco Chronicle
  10. ^ Lovece, Frank, Four Christmases (review) Archived 2013-12-19 at the Wayback Machine, Film Journal International, November 26, 2008
  11. ^ Four Christmases review from Chicago Sun-Times/RogerEbert.com
  12. ^ "Four Christmases (2008) – Daily Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-11-30.
  13. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results from Thanksgiving, November 26–30, 2008". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-12-07.
  14. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results from December 5–7, 2008". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-12-07.

External links[edit]