Clearly Hollywood's impression of real-life families is often flawed; however Thomas Bezucha's The Family Stone hits the mark. Although quirky and unique the film's characters, eventually become endearing. The story line is moving and mostly realistic (apart from the kitchen fiasco on Christmas day).
Sybil and Kelly Stone (Diane Keaton and Craig T.Nelson) are the modern free-minded parents of five exceptional children. Each of their grown-up kids is distinctive in every way, apart from the love that they share for each other. Gathered for their family Christmas reunion in rustic New England, the eldest son, Everett (Dermot Mulroney) brings his uptight straight-laced fiancée, Meredith Morton (Sarah Jessica Parker) to meet his family. To say that Meredith doesn't gel with the Stone's laissez-faire attitude would be an extreme understatement. Amy Stone (Rachel McAdams) seems to loathe Meredith before she even arrives, having met her once before. Everett's pregnant sister Susannah (Elizabeth Reaser) and deaf and gay brother Thad (Ty Giordano) and his partner Patrick (Brian White) refuse to pass judgment on Meredith before meeting her. The most laid back Stone family member is Ben (Luke Wilson), a film editor who resides in Berkeley, California. Ben seems to be the only family member who can actually relate to Meredith.
The tension in the "Stone" home escalates to the point where Meredith decides to move into a hotel and invites her younger sister Julie (Claire Danes) to join her at the Stone's Christmas fest. Meredith is astonished when the Stones automatically accept Julie as one of their own.
Here's where I have to stop abruptly; I wouldn't want to give away Sybil Stone's very sad secret or tell you how this twisted tale ends. Enjoy this funny and endearing film about how a family celebrates Christmas; this movie may become a modern day classic.
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