Blu-ray
One to Avoid
2 stars
Amazon
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Overall Grade
2 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
1 Stars
HD Video Quality
3 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3 Stars
Supplements
0 Stars
High-Def Extras
2 Stars
Bottom Line
One to Avoid

Four Christmases

Street Date:
November 24th, 2009
Reviewed by:
Drew Taylor
Review Date: 1
November 20th, 2009
Movie Release Year:
2008
Studio:
New Line Cinema
Length:
88 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Not to sound like a Scrooge, but to paraphrase Roger Ebert, I hated, hated, hated 'Four Christmases.'

I really mean that. This movie is atrocious.

Warner Bros., having not learned from the painful commercial and critical beating that their expensive, borderline unwatchable 'Fred Claus' the year before, bankrolled yet another pricey, inert Vince Vaughn holiday "comedy," this time with the asinine title 'Four Christmases.'

The plot, as much as there is one, is about Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon, who are a couple of young professionals who are also totally selfish assholes. Instead of visiting their families at Christmas, the pair lie to them about being obligated to do charity work in some far-off country and then rush off to some tropical hideaway. This being a romantic comedy based entirely on coincidence and slipshod plotting, when a meteorological event causes all the planes at their airport to be grounded, they're interviewed for a local news program. Apparently, all four of their families (since both of their parents are divorced) watch that one local news channel, although the movie never goes out of its way to set the movie in a particular geographic location (Vaughn and Witherspoon live in San Francisco, this is about all we know).

Now, caught in their web of deceit, they feel obligated to visit all four of their families on Christmas day. Can you imagine! Well, yes, you can, because this is a tired plot worthy of the lousiest sitcom imaginable. But wait, no, this is a big budget Hollywood movie. They travel from home to home, enduring various unfunny degradations and humiliations (baby vomit, getting beat up by a brother etc.) in what will undoubtedly feel like the longest 88 minutes of your life (or maybe the second longest!).

This thing is really a chore. Under the direction of Seth Gordon, who directed the excellent documentary 'King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters,' 'Four Christmases' is little more than an embarrassment for everyone involved, especially when you think about how many amazing people are in this movie (many of them Oscar-winners) - Robert Duvall, Jon Voight, Jon Faverau, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen. Just typing these names makes me embarrassed for them. Additionally, fine character actors like Dwight Yoakam, Kristin Chenoweth, and Katy Mixon (from 'East Bound and Down') are equally wasted.

The movie is so amateurish, with such complete disregard for continuity, geographic orientation, or the basic nuts and bolts of narrative storytelling, that it really does begin to wear thin after almost the first scene (where Reese and Vince Vaughn have a weird role playing thing in a nightclub). Rarely have I been as astonished by a bad movie as I was by this thing. It's really that bad.

Note to Hollywood: Next time the words "Christmas" and "Vince Vaughn" pop up in the same pitch meeting, please oh please, put the breaks on it immediately. I don’t think the holiday can endure much more.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

The movie does auto-play, so get ready for it, whether you like it or not. The 'Four Christmases' set has a Digital Copy bonus disc. Because you'll be really eager to take this with you wherever you go. Not. It's a 25GB disc and is Region A locked.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Well, at least 'Four Christmases' looks good. The 1080p VC-1 encoded transfer (in the original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1) is sharp enough to discern all five shades of blonde in Reese Witherspoon's hair (or is it a wig?)

Overall this is a solid transfer. Skin tones look good, blacks are deep, and all the Christmas colors really pop. There aren't any obnoxious technical issues, either, although I'm not sure I would have even noticed, the awfulness of the movie was so permeating.

Otherwise, there's not much else to say about the transfer. Most of the movie is set in the daytime, in some anonymous area, and those sequences can tend to be a bit bright, but besides that this is a fine, workmanlike transfer.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix on this disc is also solid but unexceptional.

Like most comedies, the movie is basically all dialogue, and on that front, is front-loaded. That said, the dialogue is always crisp and clear, even when characters are talking over each other (don't get excited, this isn't a Robert Altman movie). Enjoy the banter in Dolby Digital 5.1

There are moments where the surround sound kicks in, like when Reese Witherspoon is trapped in one of those inflatable jumpy-thingees with a bunch of rambunctious little kids, and these sequences sound just fine. Likewise sound effects, like the splash of baby vomit on Reese Witherspoon's jacket, are well rendered and prioritized (alas).

Additionally, there are no clicks, hiss, or any other buggy audio anomalies. It doesn't make much of an impression on you, but it isn't offensively bad either.

Also on this disc is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and subtitles in English SDH and Spanish.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Every extra on this Blu-ray is exclusive. See below.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

Every extra on this disc is a "Blu-ray exclusive" because the DVD doesn't have one single solitary extra feature on it. Upon finding that out, I was extremely disappointed I wasn't reviewing the DVD version. Again, the 'Four Christmases' package comes with a Digital Copy and, although there are BD-Live accessible bonus features advertised on the box, there was nothing on there when I accessed the BD-Live page from the disc. So stay tuned for exclusive BD-Live content on 'Four Christmases!' Huzzah!

  • 'Four Christmases:' Holiday Moments (HD, 10:50) This basically has various cast and crew members explaining scenes from the movie. It's agonizing, partially because everyone has such a self-satisfied attitude about making such a horrible, horrible movie. Skip this.
  • HBO First Look: 'Four Christmases' (HD, 13:03) This is your standard EPK, with (again) various interviews with incredibly smug cast and crew members about their terrible movie, along with snippets from the movie that basically equals an overlong trailer for the movie. Skip this too.
  • Seven Layer Holiday Meals in a Flash (HD, 10:08) This is one of the more bizarre special features I've seen in a while, and features television personality Paula Dean and 'Four Christmases' star Katy Mixon (in character) cooking a holiday meal. This is beyond pointless, and besides the sheer audacity of its weirdness, should be avoided at all costs. Again, skip this.
  • Gag Reel (HD, 2:34) This basically amounts to Vince Vaughn continually cracking up at the way that Jon Favereau is eating wings across the table from him. Three guesses on my verdict? Yep, skip this.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 8:21) These are all boring and stupid, although there's one scene here that was in the trailer, so if you're wondering where the scene went with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn calling their respective parents and bailing. Here it is! The trailer isn't on this disc, but it's cut into the HBO First Look thingee, so that's how I know. Oh, and you can skip this too.

Final Thoughts

There's a big banner on the cover of 'Four Christmases' that says '45 Minutes of Hilarious Content' in regards to the special features, but I would be hard pressed to find 45 minutes of hilarious content on the entire disc -- movie and bonus features! In fact, I would be hard pressed to find five minutes of hilarious content. This movie is that awful. With adequate audio and video and equally terrible extras, the 'Four Christmases' Blu-ray is worse than a stocking full of coal. This is one to avoid.

Technical Specs

  • BD-25 Blu-ray Disc
  • BD-25

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/VC-1

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround Sound
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH
  • Spanish

Supplements

  • Four Christmases: Holiday Moments
  • HBO First Look: Four Christmases
  • Seven Layer Holiday Meals in a Flash
  • Gag Reel
  • Deleted Scenes

Exclusive HD Content

  • BD-Live
  • Digital Copy

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

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