The Family Stone

The Family Stone
A new romantic comedy demonstrates that not all holiday gatherings are the happiest reunions. Dermot Mulroney ("The Wedding Date") is Everett Stone, a businessman who wants to be tougher than he really is. He is dating a woman who can certainly give him lessons - Meredith Morton - a no nonsense, strait-laced woman who doesn't think that life necessarily needs to be fun. Everett is ready to marry Meredith, and therefore ready to introduce her to his family. He takes her home for the holidays to meet his big, warm family on the east coast.

When they arrive, his family is shocked. They aren't surprised that he is dating, they're surprised at who he's dating. Meredith is certainly polite, but she is cold and antalytical. She exhibits none of the qualities that Everett has been raised to believe are important. No one is more dismayed than Everett's mother Sybil (Diane Keaton). Although she tries valiantly to be happy for her son, her misgivings about his choice get in the way. Sybil worries that Meredith is not at all the right woman for her son, but Everett doesn't get it yet.

The rest of the family isn't much happier about Meredith. His father Kelly and his brothers Ben and Thad try to get to know the extremely reserved Meredith, but to no avail. Amy Stone(Rachel McAdams - "The Notebook") is harder to impress. She downright dislikes Meredith and doesn't try very hard to hide it. Meredith knows that she isn't making a very good impression. Desperate to have someone on her side, she calls her sister Julie (Claire Danes) and begs to come to the family's home for the duration of her visit. Julie is reluctant, but agrees. When she arrives, however, things go from bad to worse. Julie is almost more laid back than the Stone family and she just makes her sister look worse.

This New England family is just fascinating to watch. Their interactions are natural and funny, and though the hijinks can get a bit over the top, they're still funny. Sarah Jessica Parker ("Sex In the City" TV) is dead-on as the uptight Meredith. She does an excellent job of fleshing out the character as being more than just a killjoy. I especially liked seeing a deaf main character, and of course, Diane Keaton was on the money. The Family Stone will have you value your own "normal" family around Christmas!

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