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Four Christmases’ leaves festive fans out in the cold

Chevy Chase once reminded us why we all love the holiday season. In 1989, “Christmas Vacation” taught us how holidays can be aggravating because of annoying family members while still bringing people together in meaningful and humorous ways.

The world of Vince Vaughn’s new holiday comedy is much different. In a film titled “Four Christmases,” Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon play Brad and Kate, a couple that makes it a point to avoid spending the holidays with family. Usually, they spend it on vacation in Fiji, but this year a San Francisco fog rolls in canceling all flights. When all four of their divorced parents see them interviewed on television, Brad and Kate are forced to endure four separate visits with people they can’t stand to be around.

At the same time, Brad and Kate are two people you would never like. You would never get along with them; you would never find friendship in them; and you certainly wouldn’t find any sort of commitment from them. They refuse to get married. When the film shifts focus from family antics to building a relationship between Brad and Kate, the audience will hardly take notice or even care.

We might care to note that between Witherspoon and John Voight, there are five Academy Award winners in this film. With Tim McGraw and “Iron Man” director Jon Favreau out-acting all of them as Brad’s bullying brothers, you’ll hopefully notice there’s something hugely disappointing aside from their sparse moments together.

Christmas movies are about soul searching, and letting your loved ones lead you to happiness, even if they’re unbearable at times. Great holiday films remind you of how annoying family members can be, but they also help define what the Christmas spirit is all about. At the end of “Four Christmases” don’t expect the same revelation. Even with four separate attempts, it’s hard to find anything memorable about these four Christmases.

Letter Grade: C-

Rated PG-13 for some sexual humor and language.

Runtime: 82 min.

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, John Voight, John Favreau, Mary Steenburgen and Tim McGraw

Directed by Seth Gordon

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