Friday, March 29, 2013

Movie Buff: The Family Stone

The Family Stone.  Everett Stone brings his girlfriend Meredith Morton home for X-Mas to meet the family. Hilarity ensues. First off, the film's got a pretty good cast:  Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson as the head of the Stone family; Luke Wilson and Rachel McAdams numbering among the children, Sarah Jessica Parker as Meredith, and Claire Danes as Meridith's sister Julie (and Paul Schneider as McAdams' ex-boyfriend). That's a nice ensemble. And the start of the plot works well; anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed and outnumbered by their significant other's family can relate to Meredith, even while acknowledging that part of the problem is that she won't loosen up. And we sympathize with the family, too, for having to recalibrate to this stranger in their midst. Then Meredith calls in Julie for moral support, and things go... astray. Julie instantly connects with the family, and she and Everett have a pretty good spark too. Meredith has a break-down and then loosens up in subsequent bar drinking with Wilson's character, Ben. The switcheroo is pretty predictable, from more or less the moment Julie appears on the scene. The actors do fine with what they're given, but in the end, it's a little saccharine for my tastes.

I don't mind disgustingly sweet endings, or improbable courses of events--as long as the piece of fiction in question earns them. I don't feel that The Family Stone did. Part of the problem, for me, is that we don't see enough of what brought Everett and Meredith together in the first place--we hear the story, but we don't see the history, not in the way they respond to each other, not in how easy they fall for other people. And while the Stone family relations are reasonably fleshed out, I never get a sense of how Meredith and Julie relate to each other--at least, not enough of one to describe how they turned out so different. The movie seems to ask you to just go aong with it, and that's not enough for my tastes.

Later Days.

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