all need some warmth this Christmas. I don't mean literal warmth
from a furnace. Although, it would be pretty damn sweet if our
landlord fixed the boiler for our apartment building before
any more of the seniors die of frost. It never gets below 45
in our one-bedroom in the basement, though. And he's giving
us ten dollars in Wendy's coupons every month the boiler doesn't
work. I've saved up twenty bucks worth so far and I think I
know where Christmas dinner will be.
What I mean by warmth
is that comfortable, fuzzy feeling you get from shared love
and joy during the holiday season, or from sniffing mineral
spirits in a confined space. Sure, most of the holiday cheer
is manufactured horseshit. It only keeps you warm for thirty
minutes or an hour, about as long as it takes for everyone to
get bored with the fruit punch at the Hancock Fabric Christmas
party and start rasslin' among the calico bolts. That warmth
usually disappears about the same time someone dry-humps the
warmth fades away when that creepy Rudolph TV special ends and
you're left with a handful of important questions about the
relevance of your existence. Well, hell that question comes
up even during the commercials for Skittles and when waking
up every morning. What good, real holiday cheer does is beat
back the demons of our miserable and insignificant lives long
enough to brighten the season. It has the power to make us buy
cheap plastic gadgets for our families and to
stop sneaking out in the middle of the night to shit in our
asshole neighbor's mailbox. Oh, hell yeah, he still deserves
it every fucking day, but when you're warm inside from the power
of the birth of Christ you can be generous with your heart and
time, but not your feces.
This year more than
any I remember, we need a little warmth to bury all the ugly
reality so deep we don't find it until January. I want Christmas
cheer so powerful it makes us forget that we're falling into
the mouth of a gnashing economic apocalypse, that the rich are
getting rescued and the poor are getting fucked, that we can't
win the wars we start, that people are buying guns at record
rates and that the cable company finally realized I was getting
a nudie Cinemax channel for free. Okay, it was the one where
the girls look like they have have cement in their tits and
the simulated sex is as authentic as leather jackets made in
Bangalore. Still, it was all I had. This year, We need a Christmas
fails completely. It just sucks ass: your ass, my ass, the dog's
ass. And when it's done, it grabs you by the back of the head
and makes you suck a stranger's filthy ass. It's a phony-ass
holiday movie with no message, no warmth, no good cheer, just
assholes whining and bitching about their families.
and Vince Vaughn are two cartoonishly outsized and self-absorbed
consumerist yuppies with a cold, minimalist home and a lot of
really nice stuff that lets us know they are rich assholes.
The Christmas tradition is that rich assholes are converted
into generous, ego-less sweethearts by some miraculous event.
It happened to the Grinch, to Scrooge and to Mr. Potter. That's
the shit that makes people feel warm. If you're gonna mess with
that formula, you better have a damn good reason. Four Christmases
doesn't. It's got no reason other than to cram in bickering,
bitching, whining and vomit. In the end, Witherspoon and Vaughn
keep all their fancy shit, all their money and hate the families
they are forced to spend the holidays with. They are two assholes
at the start, and three assholes at the end.
The director, Seth
Gordon, once made an awesome documentary about the world of
competitive classic-video-gaming called The King of Kong.
Honest to God, it's as good as a goat that pisses cold beer.
In Four Christmases, though, he is as lost as the three-year-old
I saw eating greeting cards in the mall. He has nothing to say
here, except, Hey, look at these assholes hate their families.
Still watching? Well, they're still hating.
I didn't give a dog's
nut for Witherspoon or Vaughn. I don't think I was supposed
to. We are shown early on how unclever, uninteresting and unlikable
they are. Throughout the movie, they are never in trouble. The
only conflict comes from a manufactured moment two-thirds of
the way in when, after being puked on, Witherspoon decides she
doesn't hate kids after all and wants to have bunch. So they
break up. Great! Fantastic! That's a warm Christmas message:
these fucking yuppies will not procreate.
Sadly, in the end,
they have a baby without changing into better, funnier or more
interesting people. What the fuck sort of holiday cheer is that?
How is that supposed to warm our cockles? If assholes were redeemed
by having children, there would be way fewer Britneys, Courtneys
and Logans in our schools, no oversized SUVs idling in the no-parking
zones outside, and no parents demanding "Intelligent Design"
be taught in science class.
At the start of Four
Christmases, Witherspoon and Vaughn's annual plan to ditch
their families for the holiday and escape to a tropical paradise
are ruined by bad weather. Worse, TV cameras capture the couple
waiting at the airport, and their families see them. What sort
of assholes watch midday local news? Mostly unemployed layabouts
who either need training to work in dental offices or a personal
injury lawyer. I would avoid them too.
and Vaughn have divorced parents, hence the Four Christmases.
Three of the families are absolutely miserable stereotypes about
as funny as an old ladies' pap smear. I mean the unfunny ones,
not the ones with hilarious cell structures. The fourth is just
dull. Stuck visiting family, Witherspoon and Vaughn learn about
each other's pasts, where they--surprise!--were fat, or not
as popular as they pretend. The families are wacky and full
of classist cliches such as Vaughn's white trash dad and two
UFC wrestling brothers. The trashy children and wives like hors
d'oeuvres with mayonnaise and Cheez Whiz. Oh shit, that's what
passes for funny? You know, stores still sell Cheez Whiz because
people actually like it, and sometimes it's all they can afford.
We used to sell shitloads of it at the Family Dollar. When not
being classist, Four Christmases relies on meanness and
vulgarity. There are repeated incidents of "humorous" vomiting,
and one in which Witherspoon beats the shit out of some kids
for a reason that, in retrospect, makes almost no sense.
Witherspoon and Vaughn
aren't funny. They're just consistently uptight assholes who
don't smile and complain a lot. Neither becomes likable and
neither is doing more than going through the motions of a hollow
existence. Their families never rise to the occasion, either.
There isn't a funny cameo or hilarious character in the mess.
Mostly, they are just bad outlines of characters that haven't
been filled out or punched up. Hell, there's even a "randy"
grandmother. I expected her to start rapping.
In one truly sad
setting, Gordon exploits one of the stars of his documentary,
Steve Wiebe, in a cameo. Wiebe doesn't speak or act. He's just
there. Was someone supposed to be thrilled by his appearance?
First, Four Christmases is not going to draw much of
the same audience. And those who do recognize Wiebe have no
reason to be thrilled to see him, given that he does nothing
but appear. In fact, it pissed me off. First, Wiebe seems like
a decent guy, so why patronize him? Second, it turns him into
a Hollywood creation instead of an everyman, and instead of
enhancing this movie, sort of fuck up the message and intent
of King of Kong. Wiebe is now just Gordon's token. His
token of poor judgment and taste.
What a shitty
way to start the holiday season. People are losing their jobs,
banks are closing, the rich are ripping off the government,
and Seth Gordon thinks we give a shit whether two asshole yuppies
can be happy bringing another mouth to feed into their rarefied
world. Baby, it's cold outside and inside. One Finger.
to tell Filthy Something?