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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Happy Holidays

Four Christmases (2008) on IMDb

Plot Overview

SantaSwinging yuppie couple Bradford ‘Brad’ McVie (Vince Vaughn) & Kate (Reese Witherspoon) eschew marriage, children, and holiday visits. Unfortunately, they get stuck this Christmas visiting in turn each of their divorced parents. Brad's redneck father Howard (Robert Duvall), brothers, sister-in-law, and nephews have a Christmas centered on Santa Claus and gift giving. Santa ends up a little worse for the wear. Kate's mother Marilyn (Mary Steen­burgen), Marilyn's latest beau Pastor Phil (Dwight Yoakam), and assorted sister, niece and nephew have a Christmas centered on the birth of the holy child Jesus while minimizing the commercialism of the day. Brad's hippie mom Paula (Sissy Spacek), her younger husband Darryl, and assorted off­spring have a Christmas focused on being with friends & family. Darryl had been Brad's best friend growing up and now he's married to Brad's mom, which Brad has trouble processing. Kate's father Creighton (Jon Voight) has Kate's mom and beau over, being united some­what by Kate's sister Courtney (Kristen Chenoweth)'s newborn as children make the holiday. Kate and Brad's maternal and paternal instincts don't respond in sync, which leaves their relationship ragged.

Ordinarily a Christmas might seamlessly weave together these four elements—Santa, Jesus, friends & family, children—in one grand holiday dynamic, but here they are separated out for dealing with individually. The couple doing the circuit will in the process perhaps learn enough about each other to take their relationship to the next level.


technicianThere's a hubbub on the roof when Brad goes to install his gift of a satellite TV dish while his dad tries to tune in Lawrence Welk below. It leaves Welk with more pyro­technics than his customary tiny bubbles in the wine and the kids seriously shaken in their belief in Santa. However, all children grow out of that belief eventually, per (1Cor. 13:11) “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I under­stood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” The whole movie deals with Brad & Kate's evolving domestic maturity, each at his or her own rate, while the Bible's Corinthian couples had to develop their faith in Christ individually, too.

In Acts a jailor was disturbed by his prisoners' singing up an earthquake, so he (Acts 16:30) “brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straight­way.” The jailor bringing his family to hear Paul got them saved, too. Same with belief within marriage, (1Cor. 7:16) “For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” The saved spouse brings the unsaved spouse to hear the preacher. In the movie the spouse with the developing domestic feelings hands off the baby to the slower one to hold and develop same.

rsvpPaul for his part was responding to the Corinthians' question regarding mixed marriage. It was seven years from the start of Paul's preaching in Corinth to when he wrote his answering letter from Ephesus:

According to Pastor Criswell, The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians.
Date: First Corinthians was written in the spring, probably in 57 a.d., though it could have been as early as 54 a.d. Second Corinthians was written some six months later. In 50 a.d. Paul reached Corinth on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-4). In an eighteen month stay (Acts 18:9-11) [and then some (Acts 18:18)] a church was established. … He had received questions from the Corinthians (1Cor. 7:1) and wrote the letter known as First Corinthians as an answer to those questions. At the time, Paul was in Ephesus (1Cor. 16:8), near the end of his three-year stay there (Acts 20:31) and before his departure for Macedonia (1Cor. 16:5, Acts 20:1).

At one time for the captive Jews looking at a prolonged captivity, the seventy years ahead of them (Jer. 29:10) meant they were to marry and establish families (Jer. 29:6). Here in Corinth seven years meant they had time to marry and start families, and especially since they were carnal Christians to begin with, it would often have entailed marrying a nonbeliever. This would especially be the case as “a new Jewish sect (for that was what the earliest followers of Jesus were) came to spread” (Roberts, 56). Nobody hardly knew what Christianity even was, let alone having grown up hoping to marry a Christian.

From visionary Maria Valtorta, 631. The Last Teachings before Ascension-Day: (430)

II In the Mosaic religion matrimony is a contract. In the new Christian religion let it be a sacred indissoluble act, on which may the grace of the Lord descend to make of husband and wife two ministers of His in the propagation of the human race. From the very first moments try to advise the consort belonging to the new religion to convert the consort, who is still out of the number of the believers, to enter and become part of it, to avoid those painful divisions of thought, and consequently of peace, that we have noticed also among our­selves. But when it is a question of believers in the Lord, for no reason what­soever what God united is to be dissolved. And when a consort is Christian and is united to a heathen, / advise that consort to bear his/her cross with patience, meekness and also with strength, to the extent of dying to defend his/her faith, but with­out leaving the consort whom he/she married with full consent. This is My advice for a more perfect life in the matrimonial state, until it will be possible, with the diffusion of Christianity, to have marriages between believers. Then let the bond be sacred and indissoluble, and the love holy.

We may lose track from our modern perspective of those early demographics, but some­times still by reason or war, migration, or what­ever, there are uneven numbers and a single Christian may be forced to accept a mixed marriage because of it. (Eccl. 7:16) “Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?” It's standard wisdom not to set one's standards so high (i.e. “make thyself over wise”) as to take one­self completely out of the market for a mate. And even if there are plenty of fish in the sea, some people are just darn hard to find a suitable match for.

Paul's answer in addressing such questions of the Corinthians appears to have been in the present tense, regarding an existing marriage of a Christian to an unbeliever, but he allows for such influence on an unbeliever to apply to developing composites as well, (1Cor. 3:21-22) “For all things are yours; Whether … the world, or … things present, or things to come; all are your's.” At any rate there was inevitable opportunity for mixed marriages to have occurred during those seven years, and Christians marrying non-christians would have been included in the permission given in Paul's answer.

Paul allows that the unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the believer (1Cor. 7:14), and in the Christmas pageant in the movie the Virgin Mary (Kate) forgets her lines, but Joseph (Brad) covers for her and carries the show. The widow—and presumably any single woman—is allowed to marry any eligible man (1Cor. 7:39) as long as she retains a Christian perspective (“only in the Lord”), and in “Four Christmases” Brad's hippie mom allows her­self to marry an eligible man who finds her sexually appealing, even if it's Brad's best friend.

Six months later Paul wrote 2nd Corinthians in which he told them (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” referring in its context to corporate worship. Kate had to explain to little Kasi that the “magic marker” she found was special—it was a pregnancy test device—not subject to the ‘no markers in the house’ rule. Similarly, the “not unequally yoked” rule does not apply to mixed marriage, which Paul has earlier allowed.

Production Values

” (2008) was directed by Seth Gordon. The screenplay was written by Matt R. Allen, Caleb Wilson, Jon Lucas, and Scott Moore. It stars Vince Vaughn, Reese Wither­spoon, Robert Duvall, Mary Steen­burgen, and Sissy Spacek. Leads Vaughn and Wither­spoon had great chemistry together, though their different body types marred the optics. They received good support from Sissy Spacek, Jon Voight, Robert Duvall and Jon Favreau. Duvall was a riot playing the regressive dad of an upwardly mobile son.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for some sexual humor and language. The bad language was mild and minimal and not particularly vulgar. The tone of the exchanges was upbeat. The scenery was sweet and the photography a cut above average. The sound­track's music was, in the articulation of Lawrence Welk, “wunnerful, wunnerful.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This movie is refreshingly funny. There are a number of hold-onto-your-seat moments. The humour derives from character and situation, not from crude remarks. The plot seems to incorporate disparate narratives to make it a grounding experience rather than a flight of fancy. I'd call it a holiday winner.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

The Criswell Study Bible. Authorized King James Version. Nashville | Camden: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1979. Print.

Roberts, J.M. A History of Europe. New York: Penguin Press, 1997. Print.

Valtorta, Maria. 631. The Last Teachings before Ascension-Day. in The Gospel as Revealed to Me. Vol. 5. Translated from Italian by Nicandro Picozzi, M.A., D.D. Revised by Patrick McLaughlin, M.A. This 2nd English Edition has now replaced the First English Edition, The Poem of the Man-God. WEB.