This film from 2005 is the kind of holiday fare that I don’t mind watching during other parts of the year. Christmas just happens to be the reason for this family to get together. Their relationships with each other and their spouses is truly something to behold.
Sarah Jessica Parker plays Meredith, an uptight business woman, who accompanies her boyfriend Everett (Dermot Mulroney) to meet his family for this first time. The family is bohemian and outgoing. Meredith needs backup and invites her sister (Claire Danes) to join her at their home.
Everett’s parents (Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson) hide the matriarch’s stage four breast cancer diagnosis from the family. They don’t want to ruin the holiday with it. Everett’s siblings (Luke Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Tyrone Giordano, Elizabeth Reaser) slowly figure out the secret on their own. All the while Everett wants to ask his mother for the family engagement ring and she is unwilling to give it up.
The family is unwilling to accept Meredith and misunderstands her, a habit that we find out from one of the other sibling’s spouses is a common occurrence. Meredith leaves the house and Everett’s brother follows. They get to know each other, giving Everett the opportunity to get to know Meredith’s sister.
On Christmas morning when Meredith give the family an unexpectedly kind gift in the form of an old black and white photograph of the mother when she was young, the family realizes that they may have misjudged her.
This film is funny, ridiculous, sad, and uplifting all at the same time. The acting is stellar and a lot of the dialogue is written so well that I believe that this family really has that kind of dynamic. There are inside jokes that you never really learn the meaning to but that’s the point. The family knows, and so you find their relationships believable.
I don’t hear much about this film and it is rarely brought up when people discuss their holiday movie viewing. Sad. For me, it gets watched every year.