A movie so thick, so saturated with awkwardness, Freud would die of a massive stroke. Twice.
In a nutshell: The oldest of five brings his fiance Meredith home for the holidays to meet the family. And like a shower of sparks in a densely packed fireworks factory, with magnesium walls and a floor soaked with jet fuel, things go from bad to catastrophic with masterful precision.
Scene after scene after scene, like a train wreck following a dozen airplane crashes after a freak earthquake followed by the bloody-fucking-apocalypse--slight exaggeration--one thing after another...it's beyond dysfunctional, it's a scream. Somebody nominate writer/director Thomas Bezucha for a Noble Prize. This is far beyond the realm of mortals and the academy of motion something or another.
Up until the moment that Meredith hands out gifts to each member of the Stone family on Christmas morning, you can't help but leave your damned jaw on the floor and wonder what in the name of sweet baby jebus could possibly else go the fuck wrong?
Then, together as they open their gifts from Meredith, something almost divine occurs. In that pivotal moment--at that very instant--the tide turns, their fangs withdraw, the doomsday clock moves back just a few minutes. Suddenly you have witnessed, nay, experienced an intimate, powerful moment with this family on Christmas morning. And you already know that it is an especially apropo gift given the circumstances known only to a few.
The eye of the hurricane. Further drama and foreseeable events ensue. This isn't Shamalan or Coppola.
The performances by Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson are excellent as the parents of the five flawed Stone (adult) children: Rachel McAdams, Dermot Mulroney, Luke Wilson, Tyrone Giordano and Elizabeth Rease; all of whom are at the top of their game. Admirable performances from supporting cast include Brian White, Paul Schneider and Savannah Stehlin.
Mulroney hasn't been in a romantic/comedy/drama/etc. this insane since that one with Julia Roberts. Whichever one that was. Yep.
Sarah Jessica Parker's portrayal of the ridiculous Meredith is Olympic-caliber. So complete with flaws and mistakes, disasters and catastrophes, no one could possibly be this screwed up. Relax. This is Hollywood. (We all know people *cough* family *cough* infinitely more fucked up than this).
Claire Danes completes this cast as Meredith's sister in a performance nearly as flawless as her hair, (I shit you not, it is like watching a fucking Pantene commercial). Danes brings an array of qualities to a character pivotal to the story, combining grace and feeling, clumsiness and awkwardness in a magic all her own. Simply stellar.
And for the record, the crew that created the set of the Stone family home did a fantastic job. The clutter, the furnishings, everything is spot-on.
Stone is a spectacular tale of life and loss, of love and family, and of hope for screw-ups everywhere.
You know who you are. And this film is for you.
Add this to your annual holiday movie list. It's that good.
In light of Meredith, we need another rating train wreck, with random attributes subject to change at d2d's whim.
Oh yeah, and Five outta five.
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