I really wanted to hate The Family Stone based on the trailers alone. It’s your typical schlock preview with the prerequisite laughing, crying and dancing around to old time love songs. Basically it’s annoying as all hell and made me want to do anything with my evening other than see it. Kudos to the marketing department there. The good news is the film is not schlock; in fact it’s a damn decent effort that’s worthy of a visit to your local multi-plex.
The plot of The Family Stone is something we’ve all faced in our lives, the meeting of potential in-laws. Dermot Mulroney plays Everett Stone, a gentleman squire bringing his lady (Sarah Jessica Parker) home for the holidays. Sarah Parker (sorry, you only get one middle name usage per review) plays the annoying potential fiance whom the family naturally hates. You’d hate her too as she’s pretty unlikable in much of the film. She’s the opposite of her “Sex and the City” persona, instead of smooth and sultry we get awkward and obtuse. Mulroney and Parker do well enough here, nothing to write home about but they don’t drag down the film.
In the first five minutes of The Family Stone we learn one of the Stone family members is a deaf gay fellow who’s involved in an interracial relationship. Tyrone Giordano played this innovative and refreshing role and he’s asked to pull off much of the drama of The Family Stone too. The other members of the family include Rachel McAdams as hateful little sister Amy who continues to work off her debt owed to me from The Notebook. Still about eight movies to go Rachel, keep plugging away. The dad is played by Craig T. Nelson and though he’s only asked to “act” for about six minutes Craig Nelson does okay overall too.
I should point out right about now that The Family Stone is a familial comedy as opposed to a romantic comedy. They put the word “family” right there in the title so you shouldn’t be too shocked. It’s familial in the sense that it portrays with great accuracy the love and nerve grating effect that families have on all of us. Diane Keaton plays the momma of the family in an extremely well fleshed out and realistic turn. Unlike most holiday movies you won’t find an angel behind curtain number one. I only have one more cast note (c’mon, gimme a break, it was a huge ensemble cast) and it involves the cherubic Claire Danes. She was fairly average in Shopgirl but back to full speed delightful in The Family Stone. Welcome back Claire! Take a seat by the fire and have some cocoa.
Also of note is one of the producers of The Family Stone is Michael London, not Michael Landon who is in fact quite deceased. There was some confusion in the audience beforehand about the producer which I’d hate to see spread like wildfire throughout the country. The producer of this one is fully living, tell a buddy.
The small flaws I found in the movie were of a logical nature. Certain things simply don’t happen in relationships, or if they do it’s not nearly so tidy. I’m not going to get into spoilers but it’s fair to say there is a smidge of Hollywood magic sprinkled on this one that’s entertaining but in no way pertains to the world in which we live. There is also a drop of melodrama that’s too much for me but I’m a forgiving type of guy. The Family Stone is worth seeing in the theater regardless of the marketing. Give the film a chance and you’ll find a few laughs and perhaps a tear or two as well provided the surgeons haven’t removed those tear ducts just yet.
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