The Family Stone (DVD, 2008, Canadian; Widescreen)

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The Family Stone --- Starring Rachel McAdams, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Luke Wilson

Dec 28, 2005
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:great cast, very nice story, extremely funny at parts

Cons:none

The Bottom Line: The Family Stone is a really good holiday movie about a family being introduced to a childs new significant other.


Going home to his parents for Christmas, Dermot Mulroney’s character is taking his girlfriend back for the first time. He is a successful businessman, and she fits right into the world that she sees him in. But beyond what he does for a living, he has a past and a family that she doesn’t seem to know all that much about. In the role of his girlfriend, we have Sarah Jessica Parker who is also an on-the-go woman who can never seem to put her cell phone down. Together they do seem like an odd couple though, because Emmitt’s personality doesn’t really fit the job that he does for a living. So, we have a couple heading back to his parent’s house for the holidays, and from that point on we are going to be seeing an involved family Christmas. That is pretty much what you can gain from the trailer for the film, or from the back of the DVD case, but in the end, I found this film to be so much more than a “home for the holidays” type of film. It became more of a film about the inner workings of a family, a trip down the roads of the children who grew up in the household, and an at times hilarious set of circumstances that the characters find themselves going through.

Mulroney and Parker aren’t the only famous people in the cast either. Diane Keaton plays the mother, Craig T. Nelson is the father, and Luke Wilson and Rachel McAdams play a sister and brother of Emmitt. To top it off, we have Claire Daines in the role of Parker’s sister. The movie has all of the important roles covered with great actors/actresses who each bring a little something special to their roles in the film. In addition to these characters, Emmitt does also have another brother and sister, but they have more minor roles not centered around the central plots of the film. It would really have been a shame if a film with this many high profile actors didn’t turn out to be a good one, but in the case of The Family Stone, I think there is a film built on a strong foundation that can be watched with almost as much enjoyment the second time, as you have the first time seeing it. It doesn’t rely on one type of comedy or drama to keep itself interesting, and I think it makes the film more successful than if it had relied on one thing, and pigeon-holed itself.

From the moment that the couple arrives at the house there is comedy going on all around them. The best part of it being that each event that happens actually mirrors things which could be taking place in any of our lives. For instance, with Rachel McAdam’s character, she is a college student coming back for break. As she exits her beat-up old car, she insists on carrying too much on one trip, and ends up dropping everything in the snow. It makes you laugh, because you can remember doing something exactly like that in your own life. That is the basis of a lot of the comedy that has been worked into the writing of this movie, and that is what draws you into the story, and makes it seem more real. By bringing us into the story using comedy, we are then ready for the more dramatic moments of the story, and in my opinion that actually ends up making them more believable and more real. That is just a small sample of what the film has to offer.

Sometimes when a film has a large cast like this, it will sacrifice giving them extra screen time in exchange for not giving the story enough character development. With The Family Stone, you are given everything that you need to work with, and even though some character aspects are held back until the end of the film, when you do find out what is going on with each of them, you are fine with not having known until that specific moment. Particularly great in the film are McAdam’s, Wilson, and Keaton. Wilson is actually better than I have ever seen him, and Keaton is the perfect fit for a mother who must have had it tough raising these 5 kids. What I really liked about the character casting, was that I didn’t find a single character that I felt was mis-cast. The casting director did a really great job at finding the perfect people for each part, and I enjoyed watching each one of them work. A family member bringing home a significant other for the first time, a get together between all of the main family members, and a Christmas which could all center around a specific question being asked are what the plot devices are, and The Family Stone delivers on bringing each one to fruition. For a great holiday and family film, not to mention a film filled with great acting, I highly recommend giving The Family Stone a try.






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