Christmas movies seem to be a dying breed. For every Elf or Bad Santa we get a Christmas with the Kranks or Deck the Halls. Sure, we did have Fred Claus, which I enjoyed in spite of myself, but beyond these, there have been very few Christmas movies over the past few years. It is almost like Hollywood has no interest in producing them outside of one or two token releases each year. This year's first offering is not so much a Christmas film so much as it is a relationship movie that is set during the Christmas season. As such it is mediocre on both counts, a holiday movie and a relationship movie. Is it worth seeing? Maybe. A noncommittal answer to be certain, but one that is perfect for such a middling movie as this.
On one hand Four Christmases aspires to the manic comedy of the inspired National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation while it also seeks to provide a different take on the tried and true romantic comedy formula, a la The Break-Up (which also happens to be a Vince Vaughn flick). The problem is that while the film approaches its material in an earnest-seeming manner, it fails to really dig into the funny or the dramatic, leaving a film that lacks high-level humor or heart to make either aspiration work all that well.
At the center of Four Christmases is the relationship of Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon). The story kicks off with what seems to be a traditional rom-com meet-cute, but turns out to be decidedly less so than was initially suspected. We jump into their relationship at a stage where they are steaming towards a crossroads they do not see coming.
It is the Christmas season, a time of the year where the happily unmarried couple does all that they can to avoid their respective families. They accomplish this by lying to them and flying off to some tropical locale, this time Fiji. Unfortunately, fog grounds all flights and they are forced into, you guessed it, spending time on Christmas with their parents, who happen to be divorced, hence the four Christmases of the title.