Saturday, May 28, 2011
The Family Stone. C
The Family Stone is a liberal fairy tale doused with elements of extreme sincerity. Infused with a fervent Christmas spirit, the movie brings together a deeply modern family for the holidays at the parents' cozy Connecticut home blanketed with fresh snow. But the postcard set-up fizzles quickly, as this Christmas is filled with tension and stress, starting with the arrival of one of the son's fiance, an uptight, traditional businesswoman, played, naturally, by Sarah Jessica Parker. There's also a tragic secret that's slowly making its way around the house, which adds a bitter edge to the film. While some would argue it brings a sense of pathos and realism to the story, I believe this particular element works to the detriment of the film. It doesn't successfully balance the underlying solemnity with the copious romantic tie-ups. This is the wrong type of movie for being as serious as it is. But while it's laying on the drama, it becomes more and more of, as I said, a fairy tale. Despite writer-director Thomas Bezucha's obvious strong effort, he fails to harness to the aspects of a winning dramedy. Still, in spite of the misguided approach, there's a good deal to admire about the movie. The cast manages to make the characters likable even when some don't have the right to be, and certain scenes nail the difficulty and awkwardness and humor of opposites confined in the same space. The movie's ultimate message is that the conservative must comply with the progressive, so, depending on who you are, you'll leave the film feeling uplifted or slightly irritated.