By William Wolf

THE FAMILY STONE  Send This Review to a Friend

Writer-director Thomas Bezucha tries to make a jolly Christmas holiday gathering film about a supposedly interesting New England family, The Stones, but much of it sinks like a rock. Make it a boulder. To be sure, with a cast is good as this one, there are occasional enjoyable moments, but mainly it is a forgettable mess.

Diane Keaton plays the willful Sybil Stone, the mother who struggles to rule the roost of five offspring. Sarah Jessica Parker plays Meredith Morton, who shakes things up when she arrives as the intended of the eldest son Everett (Dermot Mulroney). She’s a nervous wreck to begin with and she’s coming into a hostile den. Meredith has a pretty younger sister, Julie (Claire Danes).

Let’s not forget Ben Stone (Luke Wilson), who is a California filmmaker also home for the holiday. Rachel McAdams plays Amy, another among the Stone clan, and she holds no brief for Meredith. The youngest son, Thad (Ty Giordano) is deaf. He is also gay and has a partner named Patrick (Brian White). If all that isn’t enough, tossed into the plot is their desire to adopt a child. Oh yes, there’s one more Stone sibling, Susannah (Elizabeth Reaser). And let’s not overlook papa Stone (Craig T. Nelson), a college professor.

These should be enough Stones for any film. The screenplay allows hell to break loose as a result of the involvements that develop. For good measure, Sybil—mother Stone in case you forgot—is harboring a serious secret she’s trying to keep from the rest of the family. Surprise--it gets out.

Everything is labored in trying to keep events and characterizations spinning. Only the talent of the assorted cast members provides occasional moments when one can go with the flow and tolerate this heavy-handed mishmash. A 20th Century Fox release


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