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FAMILY STONE, THE: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
Neither Sybil Stone (Diane Keaton), the strong-willed family matriarch, nor her somewhat bohemian family are pleased when their eldest son Everett (Dermot Mulroney) brings his girlfriend Meredith Morton (Sarah Jessica Parker) home for Christmas. Meredith is an uptight, career driven New Yorker. Everett's younger sister Amy (Rachel McAdams) leads the bitchy charge, as the Christmas from hell begins to unfold. Meredith urgently invites her sister Julie (Claire Danes) to come and give her support, but it's no use and when she finally cracks, Everett's knockabout brother Ben (Luke Wilson) lends her his shoulder to cry on, which sets off a chain reaction of cross sibling misunderstandings and romantic musical chairs.

Review by Louise Keller:
Richly satisfying, The Family Stone takes us from laughter to tears and back again. Smart writing balances the fine line between comedy and tragedy, as family members with warm hearts get together for their Christmas celebrations in the winter chill. It's the stranger in their midst (Sarah Jessica Parker's paranoid, brittle Meredith) who is the catalyst for change and shifts the dynamic. Gifts are exchanged, egos destroyed, true loves discovered and secrets are revealed in this feel-good romantic comedy drama about love and family.

Writer director Thomas Bezucha judges the tone perfectly, allowing the honesty of family interaction to be prevalent, first and foremost. Sensitive themes including gay parenting, racial issues and illness are seamlessly integrated in the bustle of family conflicts, sibling gripes and allergies to mushrooms. The comedy is of the best possible kind - tragedies that we all relate to, but are happening to someone else.

The cast is hand picked and Diane Keaton ably sets the emotional levels, injecting the right emotional volume on every issue. Parker is perfect as the tightly wound up Meredith with the inappropriate stilettos and symbolically pulled back hair, and it's no wonder that the whole family warms instinctively to her diametrically opposite in Claire Dane's sister Julie with the soft flowing hair and natural smile. The balance of the cast is pretty perfect and even the complex resolutions involving life, death and bedhopping are never simplified.

The Family Stone is a multi-faceted gem - showcasing the light and shade of relationships, encased in the precious setting of family.

There are enough features for a large family on the DVD - an audio commentary, six deleted scenes, gag reel featurettes, and behind the scenes.

Published May 4, 2006

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

FAMILY STONE, THE: DVD (M)
(US, 2005)

CAST: Claire Danes, Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rachel McAdams, Dermot Mulroney, Craig T. Nelson, Luke Wilson, Tyrone Giordano, Brian J. White, Paul Schneider

PRODUCER: Michael London

DIRECTOR: Thomas Bezucha

SCRIPT: Thomas Bezucha

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jonathan Brown

EDITOR: Jeffrey Ford

MUSIC: Michael Giacchino

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jane Ann Stewart

RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 1, 2005

PRESENTATION: Widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary By Cast And Crew; Six Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary; Gag Reel; Featurettes: Casting Session, Behind The Scenes, Guild Theatre,The World Premiere

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: May 3, 2006







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