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December 6, 2009
Four Holidays Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
4/12/20083/12/2009Village RoadshowSeth Gordon
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
VC-1Dolby TrueHD 5.1MVince Vaughn
Reese Witherspoon

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Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon in Four Christmas (or Four Holidays in Australia).
Now I don't know why, but everywhere in the world this movie is known as Four Christmases - except in Australia and New Zealand where some "guru" in a marketing decided to remove the "offensive" Christmas and re-title the movie to Four Holidays. That occurred despite the fact the entire movie revolves around getting together with your family for Christmas. Anyway let's not spoil the review by starting out about the nonsensical name change and let's get into it.

When upscale, happily unmarried San Francisco couple Kate and Brad find themselves socked in by fog on Christmas morning, their exotic vacation plans morph into the family-centric holiday they had, until now, gleefully avoided. Out of obligation, and unable to escape, they trudge to not one, not two, but four relative-choked festivities, increasingly mortified to find childhood fears raised, adolescent wounds reopened... and their very future together uncertain.

As Brad counts the hours to when he can get away from their parents, step-parents, siblings and an assortment of nieces and nephews, Kate is starting to hear the ticking of a different kind of clock. And by the end of the day, she is beginning to wonder if their crazy families' choices are not so crazy after all

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Robert Duvall is hilarious.
It just has to be said, how do you have a movie with talent including Vince Vaughn, Reece Witherspoon, Robert Duvall, Jon Voight, Sissy Spacek, Jon Favreau, Mary Steenburgen and Dwight Yoakam and yet come up with something so hit and miss. That list of actors contains five Academy Award winners, but not one is near the top of their game however to be brutally honest we can't really blame the actors as the problem with this movie lies more in the script and pacing then anything else. Indeed the movie doesn't quite know where to head. At one point it can be near slapstick comedy, the next minute it's all about the relationship between Brad and Kate, and then towards the end it becomes a mushy family movie.

Despite the paper-thin storyline, the average performances and the very hit and miss jokes we have to admit that we did find some of the scenes in this movie fairly hilarious. Robert Duvall's scenes in particular are entertaining, especially when he describes his ex-wife, Kate's GramGram is pretty funny too and so is the scene in the church when Brad and Kate are acting on the stage.

Is this the worst movie ever? No of course not, but given the massive amount of talent associated with the production (even director Seth Gordon has given us the brilliant The King of Kong a couple of years ago), the end result is quite disappointing. Still, it's one to check out in the lead-up to Christmas, but just don't expect much.

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Jon Favreau is great as Brad's brother.
Four Holidays is released on Blu-Ray at a 1.78:1 aspect ratio which is slightly modified from the 1.85:1 theatrical presentation. The video has been encoded using the VC-1 codec and offers a generally uninspiring transfer to the home format. Skin tones look natural, detail levels and sharpness are as expected with the Blu-Ray format.

There are issues though. The level of grain is excessive at times and is noticeably higher in the dark scenes. Want an example, take the scene from 9:12-9:48 when Reece and Vince are in bed. When the angle switches to the top-down view there's also a terrible bit of work done in lightening up their faces with a blue halo between them. There are also some compression artifacts present. Have a look at the 14:24 or 14:29 mark when they are driving in the car, there is noticeable compression issues with the back seat. Finally there is considerable black crush and a lack of detail in shadows. Perhaps the movie should have been bumped to a BD-50 instead of squished onto a disc where the bitrate often sits in 10-15Mbps range, only just above that on DVD. Having said that the bitrate does peak above 30Mbps at times (such as when Brad and Kate are walking up to Brad's mums front door).

There are two audio tracks on this disc; an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track (16-bit/48Khz) and a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 640kbps. Both are passable in quality, but the TrueHD track certainly has a bit of an edge in clarity and fidelity. Still, this certainly isn't a movie you would use as demo material as it's pretty flat, makes little use of surround sound channels and almost never uses the sub-woofer.

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The church play is pretty amusing.
There is one single English subtitle track which for the most part is a close representation to the dialogue on-screen, although at times the text has been shortened.

There are a couple of extras on this disc, but nothing of any real substance.

Four Holidays: Holiday Moments (10:50/HD): What an absolutely pointless documentary in which the cast and crew pretty much discuss two scenes; the development of the TV "incident" and the jumping castle scenes.

HBO First Look - Four Holidays: Behind the Madness (13:02/HD): A typical promotional piece that is more intent on selling the movie then providing any real details about the production. Actually if you want to cut the movie from 88 minutes to 13 this is a great way to do it as they just retell the story almost scene for scene!

Seven Layer Holiday Meals In A Flash (10:08/HD): You know how you have stocking fillers at Christmas? Those little smaller, crappier, presents that get shoved in the stocking to fill it up? Well this is the stocking filler on this Blu-Ray disc. In fact this is one of the most pointless, unfunny, uninteresting extras we have ever seen. Abysmal.

Gag Reel (2:08/HD): Short, occasionally amusing, but nothing too original.

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Four Christmases (or Holidays in Australia)
Additional Scenes (8:21/HD): Seven additional scenes are presented here in fairly decent quality on a technical level. The actual scenes are somewhat funny (especially Photo at Paula's and Family Reunion) and are worth a look.

Theatrical Trailer (2:20/HD): It's the theatrical trailer for the movie, only presented in Standard Definition.

Filled with talent Four Holidays is ultimately a misfire on many levels. Still we're sure that with Vince and Reece headlining there will be an audience and the Blu-Ray disc is acceptable on a technical level.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.