The Family Stone

Last week I posted an entry about my favorite Christmas movies. The Family Stone made that list, and since then I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking about why it did. I’ve loved this movie since the first time I saw it in the theater. In fact, I saw it twice–with two different groups of friends. Neither group liked it at all. However, it provoked a pretty emotional response in me. And it still does to this day.

Sure, it’s not your traditional ‘happy family’ Christmas movie, and that is the main reason why I love it so much—it doesn’t paint a happy picture and call it a family reality. Instead it shows a genuine family with all it’s dysfunction, petty arguments, secrets, prejudices, losses, trials and triumphs, sadness and joys, and everything in between. This movie shows that families experience these things, yet they still manage to be a family–first and foremost.

I love how this movie portrays a family more diverse than most—a family that is comprised of all sorts of people from different backgrounds and yet eventually comes to understand everyone and accept everyone—even if it means admitting initial prejudices and pride in order to do so. I also love how this movie does not shy away from discomfort and truth. There are a few scenes during the length of the film when I cringe (even after seeing it many times and can probably recite the lines verbatim).

Furthermore, I think the cast in this movie is PERFECT! Diane Keaton is amazing as the overbearing mother we all know and love (to hate, sometimes). We can also all identify with the peacekeeping father, the bickering siblings, and the new members that the family must learn to accept as their own. The acting is amazing! That I feel such extreme discomfort, joy, and anger, right alongside these characters is testament to that fact.

What better time to throw all these elements together than at Christmas, a time where families all gather together to share, remember, and reunite–and pressure and tension often mount? This film portrays those family relationships more realistically than most I’ve seen because it shows that good relationships require work. But it’s the things we work hardest at, that become the most valuable to us.

Some of my favorite, most emotional scenes (“emotional” in that they evoke the most emotion, whether joy, anger, tears, or discomfort):

Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney, left) introduces his girlfriend Meredith Morton (Sarah Jessica Parker) to his father Kelly (Craig T. Nelson), mother Sybil (Diane Keaton) and sister Amy (Rachel McAdams)

Amy has been horrible to Meredith, so Meredith stands her ground and says this to Amy... the tension between the 2 is palpable!!

Sybil: Who else knows?

This dinner scene might be one of the most awkward and uncomfortable ever filmed!

Sybil: I’m sick, honey. And you can’t fix it. Not even by getting married. Everett: Mom… Sybil: What? I know this is probably a tall order but I need you to do me a favor and try not to be so perfect. Alright? I’d hate to see you miss out on something because you have this picture in your mind or you thought you could change something. You can’t. I’d hate to see you not find what you really want. Oh, but Everett, it’s your ring. It’s your decision.

Sybil: That's you and me, kid