Mixed Message Family Movie
Release Date: November 26, 2008
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Reese
Witherspoon, Robert Duvall,
Jon Favreau, Mary Steenburgen,
Dwight Yoakam, Jon Voight,
Kristin Chenoweth, Tim McGraw,
and Sissy Spacek
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 86 minutes
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Director: Seth Gordon
Executive Producer: Peter Billingsley, Toby
Emmerich, Michael Disco,
Richard Brener, Mark Kaufman,
and Guy Riedel
Producer: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber
and Jonathan Glickman
Writer: Matt R. Allen, Caleb Wilson,
Jon Lucas, and Scott Moore
Address Comments To:Jeffrey L. Bewkes, CEO
Barry M. Meyer, Chairman/CEO
Alan Horn, President/COO
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (New Line Cinema)
(A Time Warner company)
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522-0001
Phone: (818) 954-6000
Brad and Kate are unmarried and don’t want to have children, responsibilities or obligations. However, they spend Christmas day going to each of their four parents who are all divorced. Typically, Brad and Kate lie and skip out on seeing family over the holiday. At each home, they discover that, even though they have been together for years, they don’t really know each other and that love is actually tied in with responsibility and obligation.
The movie is slickly made with a terrific ensemble cast of actors as the four parents, Robert Duvall, Mary Steenburger, Sissy Spacek, and Jon Voight. The story is by nature episodic as a new problem or revelation unfolds at each of the stops on Christmas day. The comedy is light as they deal with family issues, some more extreme than others. Brad’s brothers are amateur cage fighters and wrestle him constantly. Brad and Kate play a “Taboo” board game and learn that they don’t know much about each other, while another couple has learned all there is to know about each other.
The movie’s message is ultimately that family does matter and that family is worth the risks and obligations that come with it. Jon Voight as Kate’s dad tells her that he has learned that family is the most important thing, and he regrets the years he lost in not valuing it. The same character prays around the Christmas table, thanking God for family and for the things that bring them together.
That said, the message has a decidedly odd anti-marriage aspect. Kate and Brad decide they can start a family, but without getting married. And the tag at the end suggests that they really aren’t seeing their family any more than they had in the past.
Kate’s mom has a new boyfriend, the pastor of a small church. Kate and Brad get roped into playing Mary and Joseph in the Nativity play, which is played for laughs. The pastor character is neither positive nor negative, though there is a degree of sarcasm in all that he does.
The movie has a mixed message with sexual and homosexual references and one scene with Kate and Brad having sexual relations. It would have been better had the message been more pure and marriage not slighted in the process. However, with discernment, this can be an entertaining movie that does have some positive things to say.
The movie is slickly made with a terrific ensemble cast of actors as the four parents, Robert Duvall, Mary Steenburger, Sissy Spacek, and Jon Voight. The movie’s message is that family does matter and is worth the obligations that come with it. That said, the message has a decidedly odd anti-marriage aspect. Kate and Brad decide they can start a family, but without getting married. And, the tag at the end suggests that they really aren’t seeing their family any more than they had in the past.