Megan Basham

Pot-smoking, gay adoption, and mothers gleefully discussing how their daughters lost their virginity. Ahh, just what the Christmas season is all about. What? Not in your family?

Then you must not work in the film industry. Because apparently there, like doorbells and sleighbells and schnitzel with noodle, these things add up to a heartwarming holiday.

The Family Stone is yet another case of movie marketing bait-and-switch. Playing on Christmas nostalgia, which most Americans share, the trailer promised a rollicking, good-natured comedy about family foibles and the frustrating moments that eventually become our favorite memories.

What the film delivers is a ham-fisted primer on blue-state values.

Eldest child Everett Stone (eye-candy Dermott Mulroney) was reared in the lap of liberal utopia. His parents are the kind of hip, anything-goes types that all teenagers wish they had and adults are glad they didn’t. In fact, every member of Everett’s family is terribly, terribly “cool.”

Sybil (Diane Keaton), Everett’s mom, is particularly progressive. “I tried to make all my boys gay,” Sybil tells a Christmas dinner gathering. She’s also fond of singing out, “No pot in the house!” the way most mothers tell their kids to wipe their feet as well as dishing out all the details of her children’s sex lives in language usually reserved for gansta rap.

True to liberal form, Everett’s dad (Craig T. Nelson), a tenured humanities professor, hovers around the edges of the story but doesn’t contribute much of consequence.

Then there’s Everett’s brother Thad, who is not only homosexual but also handicapped and involved in an interracial relationship with a black partner with whom he is adopting a baby. Surprisingly, Thad does not work as a model for Benetton.

Finally we have little sister Amy (Rachel McAdams) and little brother Ben (Luke Wilson). We know Amy’s cool despite the fact that she has a habit of publicly humiliating people she doesn’t care for, because she doesn’t brush her hair, and carries a burlap NPR tote bag instead of a purse. We know Ben’s cool, because, at nearly 40, he is the one who needs to be told, “No pot in the house!”

It is home to this Rockwellian portrait that Everett, the only Stone to get both a haircut and a real job, brings his girlfriend Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker).

Megan Basham

Megan Basham is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide To Having It All

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