by Haley Cullingham
Kate (Reese Witherspoon) and Brad (Vince Vaughn) are an adorable A-type couple, ballroom dancing and sexual role-playing their way to San Francisco executive bliss. They love their independence, indulge in vacations, and hate their families. Bragging to co-workers at an office Christmas party, they outline their yearly holiday escape plan: tell the relatives they’re inoculating orphans in Burma, pack their wetsuits, and head off to Fiji to "take an actual vacation on their vacation." This works great until Bay Area fog grounds their flight, and a local news station outs them to their families.
Kate and Brad jump in their luxury SUV and make their way to four seperate Christmases to please their respective sets of divorced parents. UFC fighters, vomiting babies, a hippie mom sleeping with your best friend, a cougar Grandma trying to remove your boyfriend’s belt before he’s made it through the foyer: you’re typical family holiday. Kate and Brad’s bond is tested by the family drama, and their independant lifestyle is challenged by their own insecurities. As secrets are revealed and turkey consumed, spending time around their families throws their own decisions into sharp relief, and the question remains: how happy are they, really?
Like any traditional holiday movie, this one involves a pinch of raunch, a bushel of physical comedy, and a sleigh-full of personal revelations. Cynical and sarcastic rants from Vaughn and a relatable performance as a high-strung power-girlfriend from Reese keep the movie interesting, but for the most part, this is Christmas Movie 101.