The Family Stone (2005)

Genre(s): Comedy / Drama / Romance
Fox || PG13 - 102 minutes - $29.99 || May 2nd, 2006
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2005-05-22


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Thomas Bezucha
Writer(s): Thomas Bezucha (written by)
Cast: Claire Danes, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Dermot Mulroney, Craig T. Nelson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Luke Wilson, Tyrone Giordano, Brian White, Elizabeth Reaser


Theatrical Release Date: December 16th, 2006


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Actor and Actress Commentary
  • Filmmakers' Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • "Casting Session" Featurette
  • "World Premiere" Featurette
  • Behind the Scenes Featurette
  • Q & A Session with the Cast
  • Gag Reel
  • "Morton Family Strata" Recipe


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Plot Outline: Everett Stone (Mulroney) is taking his uptight girlfriend, Meredith (Parker), home to his bohemiam-type family for Christmas with the intent of asking her hand in marriage. Soon enough, Meredith clashes with the Stone family and vice versa creating some hyjinks, tears and laughter.

The Family Stone features a wonderful ensemble who all work well together, especially Diane Keaton mother Sybil and Craig T. Nelson, pa Kelly Stone. Both display different personalities, Sybil being a little more vocal while Kelly acts more of the moderator of the events unfolding. Then you add in the Stone family along with the Morton sisters (Parker and Danes) and you have a fun hodgepodge.

The Stone family includes: Everett (Mulroney), Ben (Wilson), Amy (McAdams; Wedding Crashers), Thad (Giordano) and Susannah (Reaser), each have the common thread of being raised in a hippie, free-spirit type of household. The two Morton sisters are quite opposite as Meredith is uptight businesswoman who deals with numbers better than with human beings, and Julie who is more in touch with others and herself even.

As for the film itself, it's a mixed bag but because of this ensemble and it has a genuine emotion at its core. On the surface, The Family Stone looks more Meet the Parents than Steel Magnolias, which I think writer-director Thomas Bezucha was trying to establish with some sentimental moments amidst comedy. While this genre combo works overall, it doesn't have nearly the emotional impact I was hoping for by the end.

The Family Stone may not be the greatest Christmas antic-dramedy, but it comes from a good place with characters you like and despite their behavior, you wouldn't mind being a part of it. This isn't a film I will remember in a month or two, but it is one worth at least a rental if you like the cast.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Actor & Actress Commentary - Stars Dermot Mulroney and Sarah Jessica Parker join together on the day of the world premiere (according to Parker). The track isn't great, but it is fun and enjoyable listening to both of them talk about their experience on the set, when what was shot when, and all around giggle fest on Parker's part. There are a couple long lulls in parts, but it's a fine track.

Writer/Director, Producer, Editor and Production Designer Commentary - The more technical track that is the more balanced of the two. Writer/director Bezucha talks about the script while others speak to their own aspects like where they found the house and dressing up the sets. The other commentators include: Production designer Jane Stewart, editor Jeff Ford and producer Michael London. Out of the four, it seems Bezucha does most of the talking along with London while the other two, especially Stewart, remain silent piping up once in a while.

Note: Each track includes captions for the commentaries, which is helpful for the second one to separate the voices.

Fox Movie Channel Presents: "Casting Session" (7:40) - A made for TV featurette is somewhat typical of most but there's more tid-bits (albeit for only a few seconds) about how the film was almost never made and that it was going to be made before but production got shutdown two-weeks before shooting. Then they go on about why each actor was picked for each role, starting with Keaton as the first one they cast. And when they got Keaton, the others fell into place. There's also more behind-the-scenes footage and talk about how the family bonded together to make it work on-screen.

Fox Movie Channel Presents: "World Premiere" (5:57) - More promotional material with a red carpet reporter sticking a microphone in front of the various cast as they talk about what was so great about working on the film. I could handle the "Casting Session" one, but this was worthless.

Behind the Scenes (17:36) - If the other two weren't enough, Fox was kind enough to provide the official DVD behind-the-scenes featurette. It's the usual stuff with footage from the film mixed with cast/crew sound bites and behind the camera video. This one does get in a little more in-depth to how the film was made. This wide-ranging featurette covers a lot from the cast to the theme of the film to even the costume and set design.

Deleted Scenes (5:35) - There are six scenes running just over five and a half minutes total. None of these was important to the story and thus extracted for good reason. For example, the scene, "They Hate Me", takes place in the beginning as the family takes a Christmas picture, Meredith runs out in tears. The rest are much alike in they're redundant to what is already in the movie. You can also watch the scenes with an optional commentary from Bezucha and Ford.

Q & A with the Cast (7:53) - This question and answer session takes place in October before the film's release (December) as a majority of the cast members (minus Keaton, Nelson, White and Reaser) take questions from a moderator ranging from each of their characters to working with someone like Diane Keaton. They also reveal some more on the set trivia and quirks they enjoyed.

Gag Reel (5:43) - This gag reel, while not as funny as some, was still good and captures the fun this cast had with each other. Most of them were either flubbed lines or the case of the giggles...

There's also "Morton Family Strata" Recipe, a text feature with how to make the strata as seen in the film and several theatrical teasers/trailers for The Family Stone and a couple other Fox films.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Picture: The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Since it's a recent release, I expect nothing less than perfection and for a dramedy like this, the picture is at least near perfect.

Sound: I can say the same thing about the sound. You get the regular Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, which is just fine as this is a dialogue and score heavy film.



.::OVERALL::.

The Family Stone might be uneven in the drama department, but it's still a great film to see talented actors working together and playing interesting and flawed characters who are still likeable. Is it worth purchasing? Probably not as you'll be able to pick it up soon previously viewed, and at a low price, then it's worthwhile. Before then, just give it a rent.