'Tis the season

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

It's not as funny as National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, or as romantic as Love Actually. But Four Christmases is an agreeable addition to the Christmas-movie genre, even if it's not destined to become a holiday classic.

Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon star as Brad and Kate, a happily unmarried couple who plans a tropical vacation each December to avoid spending the holidays visiting each of their divorced parents. But when their flight is grounded, they're forced to spend Christmas hopping from one uncomfortable gathering to the next.

In typical date-movie form, some scenes will appeal to the men, like Brad fighting off his UFC-trained brothers, while breast-pump jokes are aimed toward the women. In a testament to Vaughn's comedic chops, he's able to elevate tired puking-baby gags with amusingly visceral reactions.

The supporting cast is great, especially the heavyweights playing the parents - Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Jon Voight and Mary Steenburgen. Plus, there are tons of fun cameos to watch out for, from country stars Dwight Yoakam and Tim McGraw to A Christmas Story's Peter Billingsley.

Fans of director Seth Gordon's first film, documentary The King of Kong, should keep an eye out for Donkey Kong whiz Steve Wiebe, who has a bit part.

Vaughn and Witherspoon have a comfortable chemistry, but their story plays out a little too predictably - yes, they learn to appreciate the value of family, even through all the dysfunction.

"Four Christmases"

Opens Friday

Grade: B-