Anywhere but Home
It is the mark of a truly bad film when even two of Hollywood's best comedy leads cannot squeeze a titter from their audience. Witherspoon has proved herself an able and versatile actress. And Vaughan, despite several turkeys of late, is still a valuable commodity. Yet this festive tale of a successful young couple who end up having to celebrate Christmas four times in one day with their various divorced parents is not so much unfunny as desolate. The two central characters, Brad (Vaughan) and Kate (Witherspoon), are an incongruous physical pair as it is (Vaughan is 6ft 5in, Witherspoon is 5ft 2in), but their chemistry is also non-existent. The scenario is standard holiday fare: spending time with their families helps them to see the importance of blood ties, no matter how weird. And they are weird. Brad's brothers (played by Jon Favreau and Tim McGraw) are psychotic thugs. Kate's family is oddly plastic and vacant. There is a vaguely manic humour that runs through it, a sort of off-key comedy that produces unsettling lines like: "We used to smell each other's hands" (Brad to his childhood best friend, who has now started living with his mother). The result is lots of unlikeable characters in rather strange, depressing scenarios - presumably not quite the holiday message that Gordon was aiming for.
Published: January 19, 2010 04:00 AM