The Family Stone (2005) – XMAS HOLIDAY MOVIE REVIEW

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By Geno McGahee

It’s that time of year again when I watch and review as many holiday films as I can. That is how much I love Xmas and the festivities. The 2005 film “THE FAMILY STONE” is a comedy/drama that has an all-star cast and does a great job in depicting a typical family during these times.

Everett (Dermot Mulroney) is bringing his girlfriend, Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) to the annual Christmas gathering and the stress is mounting. Meredith is very tightly wound and is far different from the Stone clan and they don’t hide the fact that she is not very welcome. Leading the pack in the cold reception is Everett’s sister, Amy (Rachel McAdams). She begins making fun of her before she comes into the house and then starts making remark after remark to irk her.

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Everett plans to propose to Meredith on Christmas day, which is met with great resistance from his mother, Sybil Stone (Diane Keaton), as his father, Kelly (Craig T. Nelson), is attempting to keep the peace. The tension is in the air and gets worse as another member of the family shows up. Everett’s deaf brother, Thad (Tyrone Giordano) and his husband, Patrick (Brian White), along with the easy-going other brother, Ben (Luke Wilson), arrive and the more people that come into the house, the more the anxiety begins to eat up Meredith. Sarah Jessica Parker does a great job in this role and it’s very easy to connect with her. Anyone that goes to visit the in-laws has felt like an outsider before getting to know everyone and Meredith had to deal with more bullshit than most do.

Amy continues to torment Meredith as the rest of the family makes it quite obvious that they don’t think she is good enough for Everett. So much so that she decides not to stay with the family and get a room at the local inn. She also invites her sister, Julie (Claire Danes), to the party to help ease tensions, but it complicates things. When she arrives, Everett begins clicking with her. As they get to know each other, Meredith begins to self-destruct. At the dinner table, Thad and Patrick mention that they are adopting a child, leading to a discussion about gay adoption and different theories. Meredith attempts to make conversation but says some controversial things that lead to the entire family turning against her. She storms out but finds an unlikely ally in Ben. The two hit a bar and get drunk, bringing out the wild side in Meredith and starts to shatter her image as a prude.

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The film focuses on motivations and what is driving Everett into the arms of Meredith and why his mother is so aggressively against the proposed marriage. The family gets exposed across the board and we start to learn why people are reacting the way that they are. This is written and directed by Thomas Bezucha and presents a very genuine and touching story, providing characters that are flawed but overall good people.

THE FAMILY STONE is a very good holiday drama with some comedic elements. The standout is Sarah Jessica Parker. She was able to present an anxiety-filled character very well and then show the transition as she gets comfortable. Her performance while in the bar was very funny and she had many other moments that had me laughing.

I recommend THE FAMILY STONE. It’s not going to be the movie to get you into the holiday spirits but it is a movie that will click with everyone that gathers with their families at this time of year. It will also click with anyone that has been the stranger coming into a new family and the difficulties or perceived difficulties that they encounter as they make their way in. It has a very genuine feel and overall approach.

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Rating: 7.5/10