Video Vault: ‘The Family Stone’

“The Family Stone”
2005 – Thomas Bezucha
PG-13: 102 minutes
Vault Rating: 7.5

The family stone of the title refers to grandma’s wedding ring … and the large northeastern family that reconvenes every Christmas season.

Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney), the very squared away older brother, is bringing Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker), his fiancee, home to meet the family.

That’s a lot of pressure, it turns out, for Meredith, who is entirely too uptight to handle this family. She’s a cell phone-wielding city chick who is completely out of sorts on this kind of battlefield.

And what a battlefield it is. There’s Ben (Luke Wilson), the pot-smoking slacker of a younger brother. There’s also Thad (Tyrone Giordano), the deaf gay brother with his black significant other. But the chief combatant here is sister Amy (Rachel McAdams), whose claws are out where Meredith is concerned from jump. And this leaves out many of the more mundane family members, relatively speaking, in a crackerjack film.

Dave, from Philipsburg, recently wrote the Vault about another film, “Shopgirl,” which also stars Claire Danes. Vault has a weak spot for the actress who appears here as Meredith’s sister, Julie Morton, who is called in late for support in Meredith’s lost cause. But the point is that Dave referred to the film as a “relationship movie” where term “chick flick” commonly applies.

I prefer the former when the chick flick is this entertaining. But now I’ve gotten off track, haven’t I?

Everybody, especially the brood’s mother, Sybil (Diane Keaton), knows that Everett is bound to ask for the promised ring of the title. Sybil, who’s been dreading the moment, has a funny moment when Everett finally calls in the marker. The family is practically unanimous that Everett and Meredith are utterly wrong for each other.

After some record breakingly uncomfortable discussions over the family’s dinner table and some authentically funny slapstick, Meredith flees the homestead and calls in her sister (Danes) for support.

Ah! The classic chick flick fallback option! Danes, it appears, is Mrs. Right and she causes quite a bit of awkwardness.

And amid the bad table manners, a bit of bad news, and a number of bad decisions, there is much good nature in “The Family Stone.” There are laugh out loud moments and touches of real humane poignance.

Vault does not like chick flicks. But “The Family Stone” isn’t one of those. It’s a relationship movie. 

Hey! You’re welcome. And so are your comments. You can contact the Video Vault by using the following link: and we’ll print your comments in the regular VaultMail feature. And until chick flicks become less predictable … Enjoy!

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