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Dec. 21, 2005

The actors own "The Family Stone"

by Devon Madison, Online Entertainment Editor
A lighthearted story, an excellent cast and a little holiday spirit. "The Family Stone," may be corny, but during the holidays, the more cheesy the better.

"The Family Stone," directed by Thomas Bezucha, is a heartwarming yet bitingly funny movie about the Stone Family Christmas. Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) brings his girlfriend Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) home for Christmas, who isn't really what the large Stone family expected. Meredith's uptight, overly polite and a little self-centered. The Stones give her the cold shoulder, angering Everett and alienating Meredith. The only person who shows Meredith any warmth is Everett's brother, Ben Stone (Luke Wilson), who nobody in the family takes very seriously. After Everett's sister, Amy Stone (Rachel McAdams) yells at Meredith and the family screams at her for asking Everett's mother, Sybil Stone (Diane Keaton), if she had really wished that all her sons were gay like her son, Thad (Tyrone Giordano), Meredith loses it and calls her sister to come stay with her at an inn near the house. On Christmas eve, emotions explode and all the Stone siblings find it in themselves to show some true holiday spirit.

"The Family Stone" is surprisingly deep. Thad, who is gay and slightly deaf, plays a major symbolic role in this movie. He and his black partner, Patrick Thomas (Brian White), are openly accepted by all, except of course, Meredith. In fact, when Thad and Patrick first arrive, Sybil gives the two both huge welcoming hugs and gives Meredith a handshake colder than the Arctic Ocean. Then, when Meredith raises the issue of gays at the dinner table on Christmas Eve, none of the family is tolerant to her questions. The movie sheds an uplifting light on the issue of family acceptance of homosexuality, making this holiday movie even more heartwarming.

The movie, though not as funny as promised in the previews, adds some lighthearted fun through its comedy. On Christmas Eve, the father, Kelly Stone (Craig T. Nelson) and Ben go out to a football field for a little "father-to-son" talk. When they arrive back at home Keaton says, "So, did you guys have fun getting stoned?" This was ironic because of their last name, but also because of their surprisingly meaningful conversation.

The romantic aspect of "The Family Stone" is quite fresh. The chemistry between the actors is unbelievable, and although the ending is predictable, the audience is still happy to watch the plot unfold.

What really makes this film so good is the actors that are in it. The movie has a wide variety of characters, from the "oldie but goodie" Diane Keaton, to the new budding actress Rachel McAdams. The actors also portray characters out of their usual spectrum, like Sarah Jessica Parker of "Sex and the City," who usually plays a fun New York City socialite rather than an uptight nervous work-a-holic. Rachel McAdams, who has played everything from a "Mean Girl" to Allie Hamilton in "The Notebook," plays a disheveled sister who is known in her family for being a bit of a downer. The excellent cast makes the film that much better.

Among its few flaws is the film's predictability. Not even halfway through the movie can the audience correctly predict the movie's ending. The movie is also corny, but it's probably even clear in the previews that if cheesy, heartwarming movies aren't for you, neither is "The Family Stone."

The "Family Stone" is the perfect Christmas movie. It's talented and attractive characters, funny dialogue and heartening plot leaves one feeling warm and happy even after the film is over.

"The Family Stone" (102 minutes) is rated PG-13 for some sexual content including dialogue, and drug references.



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