"The Family Stone" is nothing like the movie that is being advertised. It's far better than that. From the advertisements, my expectations were for a decent cast in a mediocre comedy that would provide a sparse handful of laughs and be nearly gone from my memory by New Year's Eve (like last Christmas' "Meet the Fockers"). "The Family Stone" is much more than that, but it was still far from memorable for me. The strong cast, which includes two celebrity crushes of mine (Rachel McAdams and Claire Danes), makes their hackneyed characters come to life in a way that weaker actors could not have pulled off.
Kudos to the casting director for pulling together a pretty impressive cast including Danes, McAdams, Craig T. Nelson, Diane Keaton, Luke Wilson, Dermot Mulroney, and Sarah Jessica Parker. All of the characters are such cliches (the hippie crunchy, beautifully disheveled, snarky sister; the uptight business woman, the list goes on), but these actors really bring them to life and made me care about the characters (at least most of them). I really wanted to see more of the older sister and her storyline concerning her possibly rocky marriage.
The plot suffers from several gaps in logic, but the dynamics of the family were intriguing. As someone who studies families, I loved seeing all of the different relationships in the family. This was an interesting family system, and I enjoyed analyzing all of its issues. This brings me back to my opening point. This movie is not really the comedy it is being advertised as. Yes, there are funny moments (but probably none as funny as the somewhat provocative teaser poster), but the drama (and there is much more than I expected) is far more compelling.
Michael Giacchino provides music for the movie. It was good and fit the story, but it was far from memorable. His snub from the Academy last year for his "The Incredibles" score was a travesty, but it won't be made up for with a nomination for this. This was more like his work on TV's "Alias" and "Lost."
This movie makes for an enjoyable diversion from the busyness of the Christmas season. It has a nice blend of the fun and the serious and is held together by an impressive cast. Take a break from shopping or cooking and catch a matinee. Seeing this family will help you better appreciate your own during the inevitable forthcoming family get togethers.