The Family Stone - Review
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Easter Egg; Easter Egg Snow Globe To Ambulance; Audio Commentary; Six Deleted Scenes; Gag Reel; Casting Session Featurette; Behind The Scenes Featurette; Guild Theatre Featurette; The World Premiere Featurette; Stills Gallery; Inside Look The Sentinel Behind The Scenes.
IT’S difficult to know quite what the makers of The Family Stone were trying to achieve when watching this uneven and dislikeable festive offering.
Part romantic comedy and part heart-rending family drama, the film consistently has trouble deciding which it wants to be and subsequently ends up a messy, sprawling affair that feels all over the place in terms of tone and content.
It’s a flaw made all the more disappointing when considering the quality of the ensemble cast, which includes Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton, Luke Wilson, Claire Danes, Dermot Mulroney and Rachel McAdams.
Parker is the catalyst for the events that follow. She plays Meredith Morton, the neurotic girlfriend of Mulroney’s successful businessman, Everett Stone, who is due to meet his family for the first time during their annual Christmas get-together.
Having previously met and made a bad impression on Mulroney’s sister, Amy (McAdams) Meredith has her work cut out as she bids to impress not only his mum and dad, but also their other wayward siblings.
So far, so Meet The Fockers. But to lend the film a little extra ‘gravitas’, director Thomas Bezucha decides to add a sub-plot involving Keaton’s mother suffering from a terminal disease – something which the rest of the family have yet to discover.
The ensuing film is supposed to be both funny and poignant yet winds up being neither because the mix simply doesn’t gel.
One of the main problems is that very few of the characters are particularly endearing, while the whole film feels so contrived that you can practically see the ‘plot twists’ coming from a mile off.
Parker is just too uptight for words and cuts a particularly unsympathetic character (even when trying to be nice), while Keaton’s matriarch also suffers from her fair share of hysterical moments.
Both hog the screen-time at the expense of other, more intriguing support players such as McAdams (clearly relishing another chance to play it mean) and Wilson (who is charming yet under-developed).
The film feels over-populated by pointless characters and strives to be so politically correct as to become quite the opposite.
Another of the Stone family siblings, for instance, is a deaf son (played by Tyrone Giordano) who has brought his gay lover home for the holidays. Yet aside from one especially excruciating dinner party exchange, during which the merits of gay adoption are discussed, his character goes nowhere and several of the actors are guilty of forgetting to adopt sign language when dealing with their more complex scenes.
Likewise, the story arcs involving most of the characters seem rushed and unlikely, leading to several conclusions that aren’t at all satisfying.
To make matters worse, Bezucha cannot resist throwing in a completely schmaltzy conclusion that feels way too sentimental for its own good.
The Family Stone is, therefore, a fairly tedious experience that infuriates more than it impresses. It may seek to sparkle like some festive champagne but the after-taste is particularly flat.
Running time: 102 minutes