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THE FAMILY STONE - 2005

SELECT ANOTHER FLICK CHICK MOVIE REVIEW FROM THE FILM CRITICS IN BLUE
J. ThorburnV. AlexanderC. PattersonJ. CorcoranPolly Peluso
Erica VitalD Mitchell

ERICA HECTOR VITAL

THE FAMILY STONE: A ROLLING SEASONAL ROMP

By
Erica Hector Vital
Red Rock Review
ericavital@cox.net
ericav@theflickchicks.com

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil


Highbrow, freewheeling chaos reigns in the rambling Upstate home of Kelly and Sybil Stone, the patri and matriarch of director-screenwriter Thomas Bezucha's newly released drama-comedy The Family Stone.

Classic novels line the shelves, family portraits are beautifully displayed. We can smell the pine, taste the turkey, the first flush of snow graces the lawn. Yet in the midst of what should be the perfect holiday portrait, right before the family bursts in and frenzied, endearing scenes of family slapstick begin, Diane Keaton as Sybil Stone, becoming an even more classy and classic beauty as she ages, takes a moment to herself that in its posture of grief and resignation resembles the moment a prizefighter takes before going into the ring. In Keaton's momentary silence lies the promise of a rich inner life for this character. Here in the midst of abundance, fire in the fireplace, Land Rover pulling up in the drive, broadshouldered and adoring husband, Craig T. Nelson as Kelly Stone, in the next room, is a woman deep enough to remain unsatisfied, a woman who for all intents and purposes has arrived and is still left wanting, a woman who in her quiet moments can stare into the embers of a life and feel compelled to ask, “Is that all there is?” 

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, The Family Stone, Claire Danes, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney, Luke Wilson, Craig T. Nelson

Screenwriter Thomas Bezucha's choice in giving us quiet before the comedic storm briefly forecasts a depth to the comedy to come, offering subtle insight into the ebb and flow of life that meaningful comedy can deliver. The Family Stone is a smart, snappy dialogue and character driven holiday film in the tradition of As Good as I Gets, Jerry McQuire, and the classic, 1945 Barbara Stanwyck comedy Christmas In Connecticut. So I was disappointed to find that the incomparable Keaton as the unabashed mother Stone is not mulling over the meaning of one's bourgeois existence. It is not even that old devil called love again that sinks her into this funk from which she admirably rallies back. It's the old dramaturge's deus ex machina of illness, think Terms of Endearment, think Love Story.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, The Family Stone, Claire Danes, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney, Luke Wilson, Craig T. Nelson

If there is nothing original in this conceit, the cast of characters, centered about a clean cut, clench jawed Dermot Mulroney as eldest son Everett Stone and a blade thin, beautifully turned out Sarah Jessica Parker as Everett's fiancee, Meredith, is fiercely eclectic.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, The Family Stone, Claire Danes, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney, Luke Wilson, Craig T. Nelson

There is the gay youngest boy, Tyrone Giordano as Thadd Stone who arrives with his longtime partner Patrick (Brian White) who upon arrival get busy in the kitchen, a part of a family that regards the exceptional and the unexpected as a determining feature of who they are. There is the oldest daughter, Susannah, a loving mother to one precocious Stone grandchild and expecting another, and there is the highly successful Everett due to arrive with the fiancée the Stones are prepared to hate. It is the middle child, Ben Stone, a deliberately obtuse and beguiling Luke Wilson who will become the hero to Sarah Jessica Parker's uptight Vassar educated damsel.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, The Family Stone, Claire Danes, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney, Luke Wilson, Craig T. Nelson

Keaton herself is a sparring, bawdy, earth-mother; an intellect who is not afraid to cut through the morass of social niceties to get to the roots of an offspring's angst. When youngest daughter Amy Stone, played with catty poignancy by Rachel McAdams shrugs off memories of an old boyfriend, Keaton as the Mother Stone, lets newcomer Sarah Jessica Parker in on the particulars. "Brad Stevenson took Amy's virginity."

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, The Family Stone, Claire Danes, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney, Luke Wilson, Craig T. Nelson

Keaton as a matriarch whose children call her by her first name is the moral center and central aggressor of The Family Stone and daughter Amy is heir to the throne. Amy's dislike of her big brother's intended hinges on surface appearances, the stiff formality with which Sarah Jessica Parker's Meredith Morton carries herself, and the maddening habit she has cultivated of clearing her throat. Mother and daughter set upon the family guest as if she were a virus that needed to be expelled. In an inverse of screwball comedies that work toward resolving the differences between a minority outsider who may be too black, too poor, too Hoboken, too round-heeled to fit in, Everett's Meredith is too white, too uptight, and too far to the right for the Stones. There is a dinner scene in which we all cringe for the slaughter to come as this potential addition to the family breaks every taboo that can be broken in a home as liberal and deliberately progressive as the Stones.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, The Family Stone, Claire Danes, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney, Luke Wilson, Craig T. Nelson

There is a love story here. But as Sarah Jessica Parker and Dermot Mulroney embrace in front of a mirror in Everett's childhood bedroom and Parker, as the self-conscious, buttoned up Meredith gazes at their reflection and speaks of herself and the man she is about to marry in the third person saying with some arrogance, "Look at them," we know the love story is elsewhere. Luke Wilson as Ben Stone and Claire Danes as Meredith's sister, Julie Morton, provide the elsewhere, bringing in the gremlins of true attraction, moral compromise, and heartbreak to disrupt the seeming perfection of the Stone household. Real love and real life are often as debilitating, and liberating, as
cancer.

A rollicking holiday film.


Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

SELECT ANOTHER FLICK CHICK MOVIE REVIEW FROM THE FILM CRITICS IN BLUE
J. ThorburnV. AlexanderC. PattersonJ. CorcoranPolly Peluso
Erica VitalD Mitchell

 

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