The Family Stone

family stone

There is an ever expanding selection of dysfunctional family holiday reunion movies on offer. The Family Stone tries to distinguish itself from others by showcasing the shrillest household yet, and this movie plays like a drunken dare, testing your ability to spend 100 minutes with this harping seal of a family.

Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson head a brood of five children. They have three boys – successful son, Dermot Mulroney, slacker son, Luke Wilson, and gay and deaf son (who also has a black partner and adopted biracial son), Tyrone Giordano, and two daughters – stay-at-home mom, Elizabeth Reaser, and chirpy teacher, Rachel McAdams. It’s the type of clan that will win you the most liberal, politically correct family in New England award. And they fancy themselves so. Until Everett (Mulroney) decides to bring home his corporate, Manolo Blahnik-wearing girlfriend Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) for Christmas, and all good sense is suspended.

Mama Stone is not keen on her oldest son’s choice of a wife and refuses to give him a family heirloom so that he can propose. Instead, she gives her tacit approval for the family’s ensuing attacks on Meredith. They snicker and insult her behind her back, and to her face, and contrive of every way to make her feel like a priggish louse squirming in a sea of enlightenment. Amy (McAdams) is the worst, for no other reason than she is the spoiled pretty one.

Meredith does not help her cause when her comments on race and sexual orientation make her sound like the big B – a bigot. But you will be forgiven for feeling sorry for her; the Stones’ cold cruelty and indecency is enough to make you a defender of maligned WASPs everywhere. It’s no wonder she snaps and tries to drive away, only to crash into a tree. It isn’t Everett who comes to her rescue but his brother Ben (Wilson). Maybe what this uptight career woman really needs is a shaggy, chill California filmmaker. One wonders why Everett and Meredith even happened, since this is never conveyed in the movie.

If flinging invective and casserole at one another was not enough, writer and director Thomas Bezucha feels the need to interject another major character, Meredith’s breezy and beautiful sister Julia (Claire Danes), and a terminal illness subplot. All this drama makes for an overstuffed turkey. It leaves you feeling bloated, and you’ll be happy to rid yourself of its effects.

Released: 2005
Prod: Michael London
Dir: Thomas Bezucha
Writer: Thomas Bezucha
Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney, Diane Keaton, Luke Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Claire Danes, Craig T. Nelson, Tyrone Giordano, Brian J. White, Elizabeth Reaser, Paul Schneider
Time: 104 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Reviewed: 2014