One of the surprise films of 2005, The Family Stone successfully navigates the often tempestuous waters of big screen family dramas. Quite often these types of family relationship films get lost in a deluge of dialogue, conflict, and argument. And although The Family Stone has plenty of the aforementioned, it hits the audience in manageable doses with well-placed comic relief and an unforgettable cast of eccentric characters. Written and directed by up-and-coming Hollywood talent Thomas Bezucha, the film is a mosaic of fun, laughter, sadness, and family relationships most people will find charming and endearing.
The Family Stone examines the vibrant relationships of the Stone family, a close-knit traditional nuclear family gathering for the holidays. Sybil Stone (Diane Keaton) and her husband Kelly (Craig T. Nelson) host their children for the holidays, but as with most families, conflict is abundant. Sarcasm, backstabbing, blame and jealousy are evident in almost every encounter, but ironically, so are love and respect. When eldest son Everett (Dermot Mulroney) brings home his current girlfriend Meredith Morton (Sarah Jessica Parker) to meet the family, her business-like demeanor and uptight mannerisms clash with the rest of the family, particularly Everett’s vindictive sister Amy (Rachel McAdams). Despite Meredith’s best efforts, the only family member she can impress is Everett’s laidback brother Ben (Luke Wilson).
Meredith’s discomfort is compounded when she inadvertently makes a bigoted remark about Everett’s homosexual brother Thad (Tyrone Giordano), garnering the wrath of the entire family. Pushed to her breaking point, Meredith moves from the house to a nearby bed and breakfast, while Everett struggles with the idea of proposing to a woman his family obviously dislikes. Meanwhile, Ben helps Meredith to come out of her shell, and Meredith enlists the support of her younger sister Julie (Claire Danes) to smooth things over with the Stones. But the holidays take an interesting twist when unexpected relationships blossom and an unforeseen event takes its toll on the entire family.