For anyone who views holiday gatherings with equal parts joy and dread, The Family Stone offers plenty of comedy to identify with. Writer-director Thomas Bezucha's slapstick premise begins when Everett (Dermot Mulroney) brings his fiancé Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) home to meet his family for Christmas.
It's an instant disaster when parents Sybil (Diane Keaton) and Kelly (Craig T. Nelson) agree with their gay, deaf son Thad (Ty Giordano, who is actually hearing impaired), pot-smoking son Ben (Luke Wilson) and daughters Amy (Rachel McAdams) and Susannah (Elizabeth Reaser) that Meredith is way too uptight to be welcomed into their family. Meredith recruits her sister Julie (Claire Danes) to help her thaw the Stone family cold front, and after building a solid emotional foundation for his holiday comedy, Bezucha starts to stack the deck with plot developments that, while heartwarming, border on the absurd. You either go with the movie's flow or you don't, and with this appealing cast (featuring some really nice work by Keaton, Nelson, Parker and Danes) it's easy to forgive Bezucha's unlikely blend of yuletide cheer, petty animosities, and romantic tables turned in the blink of an eye. Toss in a case of terminal illness and you've got a sad-happy tearjerker that works in spite of itself. If you don't recognize at least part of your own holiday clan in The Family Stone, you probably haven't been paying attention. --Jeff Shannon
show more show less