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The Family Stone

In a festive variation on the ‘Meet the Parents’ theme, this comedy sees nervy city girl Meredith Morton (Sarah Jessica Parker) introduced to the family of her boyfriend Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney), who’s poised to propose. Meredith has spiky designer heels and conservative views, while Everett has a deaf gay brother with a black boyfriend. Clearly he’s the winner in the PC stakes, along with his entire family. Everett does little to protect Meredith from the interrogations of his aggressively liberal parents, brothers and sister, and as Christmas Day approaches, it becomes clear they’d both be better off with someone else. Ah, but who?

This takes a clumsy approach to match-making, assuming that a few moments of lingering eye contact is enough to establish a lifelong connection. The characterisation is also at fault: the Stone family wears its liberal credentials like a badge, but it’s hard to believe that characters such as Sybil (Diane Keaton) really believe the monologues they spout.

When not preaching to the converted, the film succeeds in creating a broad culture-clash comedy. It’s refreshing to see a female control freak making the pratfalls: Meredith’s nervous throat-clearing habit amuses, as does the constant failure of her plans to gain the family’s approval (by refusing to share a bedroom with Everett out of respect, she unwittingly ousts sulky sister Amy from her room). Luke Wilson also draws easy laughs from his stoner character Ben, whose fetish for uptight women couples him with Parker in some of the film’s funniest scenes. For all its sermonising and half-hearted romance, ‘The Family Stone’ is amusing enough to succeed as a festive family time-passer.

Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Friday December 16 2005
Duration: 103 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Thomas Bezucha
Screenwriter: Thomas Bezucha
Cast: Claire Danes
Diane Keaton
Rachel McAdams
Dermot Mulroney
Sarah Jessica Parker
Luke Wilson
Craig T Nelson
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