Having missed their flight to Fiji for that perfect holiday vacation, Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) are forced to visit their families in a tradition they’d both rather avoid. Though their relationship is three years old, neither Brad nor Kate has met the other’s parents. As all of them are divorced, a simple two-house ‘hello’ becomes a four-stop ordeal on the road to festive misery.
This is added to by the fact that both Brad and Kate have been less than honest about their respective childhoods. While there is little chemistry between Vaughn and Witherspoon – the leads do their best with the material. Saving the day are the supporting cast – four of Hollywood’s most experienced actors. Brad’s parents are played by Robert Duvall and Sissy Spacek, while Kate’s folks are Jon Voight and Mary Steenburgen. With the Moms playing the frisky benefits of middle age, and the Dads offering life lessons for the young couple, the best laughs of the film are these understated exchanges. Tim McGraw and Jon Favreau play Brad‘s brothers, a duo who execute their cage fighting routine when he arrives to exchange gifts, while Kate’s sister, played by Kristin Chenoweth, brings out her motherly tendencies.
In his role as Pastor Phil, country music star Dwight Yoakam, Kate’s mother’s boyfriend, proves he’s got a second career waiting if he ever gets tired of strumming his six-string. Four Christmases is pretty innocuous stuff which pretty much does what it says on the tin.