Publicity Stills of "The Family Stone"
(Courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

Genre: Comedy/Drama
Director: Thomas Bezucha
Starring: Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney, Claire Danes, Rachel McAdams, Luke Wilson and Craig T. Nelson.
RunTime: 1 hr 42 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Rating: PG

Opening Day : 29 December 2005

Synopsis :

THE FAMILY STONE is a comic story about the annual holiday gathering of a New England family, the Stones. The eldest son brings his girlfriend home to meet his parents, brothers and sisters. The bohemian Stones greet their visitor – a high-powered, controlling New Yorker – with a mix of awkwardness, confusion and hostility. Before the holiday is over, relationships will unravel while new ones are formed, secrets will be revealed, and the family Stone will come together through its extraordinary capacity for love.

Movie Review:

The Christmas season would not be complete without a family film that revolves around yuletide. At first glance, The Family Stone can easily be compared with the likes of Love Actually and Meet The Parents. In actuality, the comparisons are quite true. At times, the stories that make the tapestry appear rushed whereas Love Actually’s stories were carefully woven. On the other hand, the film also looks like a repackaging of Meet The Parents minus the madcap antics.

The film starts off simply with Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) bringing his girlfriend, Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker), home for the holidays. The very liberal Stone family does not take too warmly to the uptight Meredith, the fish out of water in the household. Weird antics ensue as Meredith tries to fit in (she brings her sister Julie over to help her) and the Stones try to make her life a living hell.

Strangely enough, as mediocre as the film is described in my opening, it has its moments. As the film progressed, the various subplots started to flow into the picture. There were strong ones and the ones that fell flat. The scene where Meredith launches her opinion about homosexuality and gay marriages during dinner is bound to cause both giggles and gasps. Ben Stone’s (Luke Wilson) involvement in the film brings about the much needed laughter. On the other hand, while the subplot about Sybil Stone’s (Diane Keaton) illness was a good idea, it was forgettable. And was it really necessary to introduce Julie (Claire Danes) into the picture at all?

Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson as the parents provide much warmth and care to the family convincingly enough. Ty Giordano and Brian White as the homosexual couple appear as the most functional couple throughout the film. The brooding Dermot Mulroney and the carefree Luke Wilson provide perfect examples of conflict as two polar brothers. Rachel McAdams, as the youngest sister showed signs of her Mean Girls character but never got anywhere near that. Seems like everyone pulled through well enough? Well, Sarah Jessica Parker spoils all that really. The Family Stone is unlike Sex & The City territory and her character’s fish-out-water situation is reflected in her limitations as an actress.

For a first-timer, writer/director Thomas Bezucha’s effort is truly commendable. The script to The Family Stone could have been better tightened if certain subplots were removed. At the same time, certain characters could have been strengthened. It is a point to ponder though if Bezucha had specifically written certain roles just to get the respective actors. It is forgivable though for someone like Bezucha. Afterall, who would not be in wonderment having names like Diane Keaton, Claire Danes and Rachel McAdams acting together in your first feature? As a director, he has managed to hold everyone together. The film is also caught in a manner befitting a family reunion.

The Family Stone is an erratic film. Although it may be more of a rock than a jewel, it will at least make you warm all over when you leave the theatre.

Movie Rating:

(The Family Stone will warm the coldest of winters)

Review by Mohamad Shaifulbahri

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