The Family Stone Review
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The Family Stone is a holiday comedy about a man named Everett (Dermot Mulroney) who brings his extremely uptight girlfriend, Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker), home for Christmas so that she can meet his (rather large) family before he proposes to her. Unfortunately, Meredith finds his family too loose and crazy, and the family finds Meredith too rigid and close-minded. Things escalate quickly until Meredith, in a moment of desperation, invites her sister, Julie (Claire Danes), to join her so that she’ll have at least one ally in the house of insanity.

As Everett is trying to convince his family to accept Meredith, he starts to develop a friendship with Julie, while Meredith finds an unexpected ally in one of Everett’s brothers, Ben (Luke Wilson). As the four of them struggle to sort out their conflicting feelings, the rest of the family eventually forgets their animosity toward Meredith as they learn some devastating news about their mother (Diane Keaton).

I’ll be honest—I wasn’t expecting to like this movie, mostly because I really dislike both Sarah Jessica Parker and Dermot Mulroney. It was only my love for Luke Wilson and Diane Keaton that got me to rent the video in the first place. As it so happens, I ended up liking it more than I expected to—but I had a hard time getting past its flaws.

The ensemble cast is what makes this movie. Keaton and Wilson are wonderful, as usual, but the other cast members really bring a lot to their roles, especially Craig T. Nelson and Rachel McAdams as Everett’s father and youngest sister, respectively. When this group is on, they’re on, and many of the best scenes in the movie are ones that feature the entire family—especially when they’re trying to make Meredith as uncomfortable as possible.

On the other hand, though, some of the “funny” scenes came off as a bit too wacky for my taste. And I didn’t care for the handling of the Everett-Meredith-Ben-Julie relationship fiasco. The characters seemed to fall in and out of love too quickly, and I had a really hard time swallowing the nice, clean wrap-up of their situation. I won’t spoil it, but I’ll just say that I can’t imagine things working out the way they did without giving all of those people a lot of baggage.

But then again, it’s a Christmas movie. And in Christmas movies, ghosts help a miser see the error of his ways, a town pitches in to help a poor banker pay back a missing $8,000, and the postal service proves that Kris Kringle is really Santa Claus. So maybe the flaws don’t seem as obvious around the holidays. I blame the marketing people for releasing the DVD at the beginning of May—and I might just give The Family Stone another chance in December.

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