The Family Stone is a Christmas movie in the vein of Man Brings Home New Fiance That His Family Openly Scorns; Hijinks Ensue. There are a lot of children in said family, and thus, a lot of stories, and then it adds one more when uptight SJP’s own sister — in the form of Claire Danes — comes to offer support and ends up hitting it off with everyone. I’ve heard it mentioned as a holiday go-to movie, but I have to be honest, it stressed me out. I’ve seen it probably once all the way through and then more times in chunks, and I couldn’t warm up to it. Partly because I can’t figure out for whom we’re meant to be rooting. Is it Sarah Jessica Parker, who is misguided and prickly and can’t be an adult and chill out around her fiance’s family? Or is it the family, which is shitty to her, sometimes when she earns it any many times when they’re just sort of being twits? Because honestly, I didn’t like any of them, so I didn’t care about anyone being happy. It came across as one of those movies where everyone was written to be a certain way specifically so that this movie could happen, and not necessarily because any of it was believable. Am I being too harsh, or remembering it wrong?
Regardless, no judgment; we all have our Christmas movies that we love unreservedly, whether or not they’re actually good, or the ones that are classics that you’ve never seen and probably won’t. What are yours? For me: I have never seen It’s a Wonderful Life OR White Christmas, and I don’t really want to; conversely, I will watch Blackadder’s Christmas Carol all day. Oh, but not A Muppets Christmas Carol, because Michael Caine is in it and he reminds me too much of my dad to ever watch him in a movie where he is sad, even for a second. I don’t actually like The Holiday, pretty much at all, AND YET if I stumble upon it I always turn it on, ALWAYS, because Cameron Diaz lives in a cozy winter cabin and wears good sweaters and I have lived in Los Angeles for way too long so it makes me want to put on the biggest, thickest socks I own and make a vat of hot cocoa — and I will call it hot cocoa, not hot chocolate — and burrow under a blanket. It’s my Pretend Winter. I also think of Bridget Jones’s Diary as a Christmas movie because it begins and ends during the season, and that one I just genuinely love. And while I know Love, Actually, is MADLY PROBLEMATIC and papered with weight jokes and has a whole story that turns on the theory that American women (in Wisconsin at least) are probably cheap and easy, I will turn it on every time to watch Hugh Grant wiggle his bum and then cry with Emma Thompson — she is SO BRILLIANT in that scene even though I WANT TO RAGE — and then say along with that one actress, “Eight IS a lot of legs, David.”