02 January 2014

The Family Stone (starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney and Diane Keaton)


I picked this up in a charity shop in the UK a couple of months ago. The cover showed an all-star cast (not that I recognised anyone other than Diane Keaton) and the blurb on the back sounded appealing. Three of us watched it last night…

Sarah Jessica Parker stars as Meredith, a smart, but rather uptight and socially awkward executive. She is in a relationship with Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) and he’s planning to propose over Christmas. He invites her to stay with his rather bohemian family, which makes her very nervous, as she is convinced that they will all hate her.

Diane Keaton is wonderful as the laid-back mother in a long and happy marriage which has produced five children, now all adults. Dermot has two brothers - the rather slobby (but likeable) Ben, and Thad, who is profoundly deaf, and also gay. There are two sisters as well: Susanna is married and has a small and precocious daughter, and Amy is not currently in a relationship. I found the two girls a bit simiilar at first but over the course of the 98 minute film, I felt as if I got to know them all, to the extent that I could recall all their names the following day.

The plot revolves around Meredith’s increasingly dreadful attempts at making the family like her, not aided at all by Amy, who makes every effort to make her look even worse than she is. So Meredith invites her glamorous sister Lisa to stay, and Everett finds himself liking her very much…

I found the strong American accents slightly hard to get used to at first, but soon my ears attuned and it wasn't a problem. I very much liked the way that the family all used sign language naturally when communicating with Thad, at the same time as speaking. The acting, in general, is believable if (inevitably) stereotyped There’s some slapstick in the kitchen, which is quite well done, even if it mostly made me wince rather than laugh; there are one or two amusing moments, and also some surprisingly heart-wrenching subplots which I was not expecting.


It was appropriate to watch at this time of year as the theme is Christmas; some secular Christmas songs are included, as is a great deal of snow and general festive decorating. While it wasn’t the greatest film I’ve seen, it makes a good addition to our collection, and is a little different from the average ‘rom-com’.

The rating is 12 in the UK, which seems about right; there’s no violence or anything overtly sexual, nor any seriously bad language, but there are plenty of innuendoes and sexual references. I am slightly surprised to find that the usually more prudish US censors have awarded this a PG rating. However, I very much doubt if anyone under the age of about 15 would be interested in this anyway.

The usual special feature are included - commentary, deleted scenes, and more.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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