Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton, and Rachel McAdams lead an all-star cast in The Family Stone. Join the eccentric Stone family for a holiday gathering filled with unexpected surprises. Before the festivities are over, l... more »
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Better than the average genre entry
Barbara L. Pinzka | Cincinnati, Ohio USA | 07/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This sort of movie has been done to death, one would think - look at names that are listed in preceding reviews - and while Family Stone fails to provide an earthshattering new insight into the set piece, I think it's a cut above average.
For one thing, the family itself is only slightly disfunctional in its relationships among one another, a distinct relief. For example, the gay son is loved and accepted, as is his partner. There are hints that the mother may have been too clinging but, all in all, the now-adult children of Mr. and Mrs. Stone, magnificently portrayed by Diane Keaton, seem to be handling their lives with aplomb and success.
The Family Stone rolls out its disfunction when a newcomer attempts to join the family. The catalyst for this family gathering is Christmas, probably the worst of holidays for families in general because Chritmas is also the annual festival of dashed expectations, at first material and quickly psychological. A scene late in the movie, when Parker's character distributes presents, demonstrates this motif beautifully.
Our first hint that things will go badly is a scene where some members of the family mock the inniment-fiancee of the eldest son before she has even arrived with the son for a first-time visit. Then you notice that the husband of the only other child (of five) who is married has delayed his arrival until Christmas Day. Hmmmm...what does he know?
And badly things do go, usually in an over-the-top and frantic way saved only by the extraordinary acting skill and comfortable (or appropriately uncomfortable) ensemble work of the excellent cast (besides Keaton, there's Craig T. Nelson, Dermot Mulroney, Luke Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Sarah Jessica Parker). These people take nastiness to new heights and I believe if all of us hadn't been through something similar at some point in our lives we'd insist it was unrealistic. C'mon...think a little harder, about what happened when Aunt Sally got tipsy last Thanksgiving and decided to tell your Dad what it was like being the younger, "dumber" one, all those years ago?
Parker also is particularly good, portraying a buttoned-down (but fashionable) Wall-Street yuppie, at least 150-degrees different from her flighty role and Sex and the City.
I enjoyed Family Stone more than I expected to, and it made me think about how families work (and don't work), too. A few of the plot endings at the end really do push credibility too far, but everything is not wrapped up in a ball of cotton candy, just like real life."
A lump of Christmas coal
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 12/08/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
Despite the presence of actors no less stellar than Diane Keaton, Craig T. Nelson, Rachel McAdams, Clair Danes, Dermot Mulroney, Sarah Jessica Parker and Luke Wilson, I never believed for a moment that the characters in "The Family Stone" were ever related to one another in any way whatsoever. Both they and the story they are involved in feel like the products of a Screenwriting 101 workshop, with all the realism and believability one would expect from such an enterprise.
Keaton and Nelson are Sybil and Everett Stone, the parents of five grown children who have all gathered to celebrate one final Christmas together in the parents' idyllic Connecticut home before Sybil passes away from cancer. Each of the siblings has an "idiosyncrasy" stamped onto his or her persona with all the subtlety of a cattle brand. Everett (Mulroney), the stuffed-shirt perfectionist, has brought a woman home with him to meet the family - a rigid, equally uptight woman from The City named Meredith (Parker). The family takes an immediate disliking to her and wastes no time in trying to sabotage her chances with their darling son/brother - though why they don't see that Everett and Meredith are actually perfectly suited for one another is just one of the many head-scratching implausibilities that make up this script. Most of the film is spent with Meredith trying desperately to ingratiate herself with the nasty brood while the family worries about the impending loss of their wife and mother, and several of the children participate in a roundelay of romantic musical chairs more appropriate to a bunch of prepubescent adolescents than supposed adults in their twenties and thirties.
As a family, the Stones are not so much dysfunctional as they are simply annoying. Insufferably smug, petty and self-righteous, the Stones are models of tolerance only when it comes to their own in-group apparently - being highly supportive of their deaf gay son/brother and his black partner, for instance - but they are far less inclined to extend that same courtesy to those unfortunate enough to be trapped outside the family circle. Frankly, after their nauseating mistreatment of Meredith, I couldn't figure out why she didn't just tell them all to go to hell, hightail it on out of there, and go spend Christmas with people who might actually like her and treat her like a genuine human being.
To add insult to injury, the movie exploits the issue of terminal illness in an effort to lend unearned weight to what is otherwise a hopelessly contrived, unflaggingly trivial and utterly unconvincing family drama. The script hits its low point in a ridiculous, badly staged slapstick scene involving various family members slipping and sliding across the linoleum after the family's holiday meal somehow lands on the kitchen floor (don`t even ask). Not even a flavorful, touching coda can wipe away the bitter taste of much of what occurs earlier on in the film.
For a much better variation on this theme of an outsider trying to batter her way into an exclusive family circle, check out the far superior "Junebug" and skip this lump of Christmas coal altogether."
GadgetChick | 05/03/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Have you ever had this experience? You see trailers for a movie, realize you like many people in the cast and think the premise is interesting, and eagerly anticipate seeing the movie - only to find out, while you're watching it, that the movie's script would have been better used as a cage liner for an ill-tempered parrot or hamster. Well, that's the experience I had with "The Family Stone."
The trailers looked so good, didn't they? A great ensemble comedy/drama featuring Sarah Jessica Parker - who doesn't love her? - playing an uptight witch, such a change from her libertine "Sex and the City" character. Diane Keaton - I've loved her since I saw her in "Annie Hall" as a kid. Rachel McAdams, who was sooo good in "Wedding Crashers." Claire Danes, who was every alterna-chick's hero on "My So-Called Life." Dermot Mulroney. Craig T. Nelson. Luke Wilson, the thinking girl's heartthrob. Etc. etc. etc.
The problem is, the extremely talented cast is beyond wasted in this train wreck of a movie. There are some movies where all of the characters are morally ambiguous and you don't know who to root for, but the movie is still enjoyable because the characters are at least interesting. Not this movie. I kept wishing that the next plot point would be a fatal gas leak that killed every last man, woman and child in the house in either a haze of carbon monoxide or a fiery explosion of mythic proportions.
Despite the movie being billed as a comedy, there's very little that's funny here. McAdams and Keaton play characters who you would probably crawl through broken glass or a sewer pipe to avoid. I'm pretty sure their characters should have been portrayed as sitting on a rock somewhere, luring unsuspecting sailors to a grisly death. All the male characters are incredibly weak and come across as morons who follow whichever direction their peter points. Things that would never - I repeat, NEVER - happen in real life, like someone falling in love with their fiancee's sister literally at-first-sight and wanting to marry her instead - are treated like completely reasonable occurrences. There's a painfully unrealistic scene where SJP's character makes a homophobic statement about a family member and a completely histrionic scene ensues. One of the things that struck me about the movie was that no one I have ever encountered would treat a guest in their home the way Keaton's character treats Parker's character - like a leper who's going to dribble crepulent body parts all over the heirloom Oriental rug. Most people have the common sense and good breeding to gloss over a guest's character flaws or misstatements, but not this family. Anyone different from them is the enemy and will be crucified on the cross of political correctness (I'm a liberal and I thought the political correctness in the movie was over the top).
Some very talented people, namely Claire Danes and Craig T. Nelson, are given almost nothing to do. Danes' job is mostly to stand around looking both beautiful and consternated at the same time. Nelson's job is to be the sensitive New Age wimpy dad. There's a pregnant sister in there somewhere, never could figure out what she was supposed to add to the plot other than an additional body at the dinner table. There's a deaf homosexual brother who's adopting a child with his partner and his character has absolutely no depth or complexity; he's basically there as the family's patron saint and a sword for Parker's character to fall upon before redeeming herself by sleeping with her fiance's slacker brother. To top it off, Keaton's character has terminal breast cancer. I presume that was thrown in as a plot device to allow the writers to bring this travesty to some kind of tearjerking end, or to make you feel sorry for her character so you wouldn't dislike her quite so much. Give me a break.
All in all, way, WAY too much going on here, and none of it was grounded in reality. This is how a spouseless, childless Hollywood writer envisions Midwestern family life - chaotic and fraught with false-ringing emotional drama. The real dramas that take place in authentic families are way more compelling than this dreck. Heck, my family's annual tussle over the TV remote on Christmas Day is more compelling. I gave the movie two stars because in a twisted way, some parts of it are entertaining. At least more entertaining than watching, say, C-SPAN, or public access. But all in all this movie is terrible, and there are almost certainly better things you could do with your time. Like scrub the grout between the shower tiles in your bathroom."
Excellent and Real!
Never Lander | 08/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"OK, this film was a bit misleading in its promotion. This film is NOT a comedy. It has comedic elements but the film is a drama. The film is perfect in its execution. It is far from the cheesy Christmas films of old. It harkens back to films like "Home for the Holidays" with Holly Hunter (a classic in its own right for both Hunter and Robert Downey Jr's performances). The familial angst, the liberal meeting the conservative, the desire for love, family protecting family, it's all here. Sarah Jessica Parker shines in a very different role for her. You feel her painful shyness at dinner when she is so misunderstood in her intentions that she ends up in the car crying.
Not all aspects of the film are to be applauded but the underlying story of the "family stone" which could be the ring requested from the matriarch of the family, the last name of the family of course or the matriarch herself are amazing. Very touching moment at the end, if a bit unrealistic, where they all focus on the picture given as a gift of a pregnant Diane Keaton.
Rachel McAdams is also a shining part of this truly ensemble performance. She plays the little sister with tenacity and twisted pleasure but hides a softer side under sarcasm. She is the perfect foil to Sarah Jessica Parker and I love the humor, heart and love shown throughout this wonderful film."