Wednesday, December 25, 2013

For a true Xmas turkey, look no further than Ed Burns' THE FITZGERALD FAMILY CHRISTMAS

Ed Burns and Connie Britton are tremen-dously appealing actors, but they are about the only good things -- despite a cast full of other good actors -- in the atrocious and cliche-ridden "family" rom-com-dram, THE FITZGERALD FAMILY CHRISTMAS. What were they thinking? rears its questioning little head often and loudly throughout this message-laden movie about family, death, dying, guilt, retribution, sex, drugs, rock-n-roll and more. Oh, god, so much more. Each family member in this sappy, soapy saga has his/her own sad story. Together these make for major audience tribulation -- unless you are one of those lucky souls who must have your daily fix of a cliché or two (or, in this case maybe 20).

Over the years since Mr. Burns (pictured at right), who wrote and directed this film, burst upon the scene with his over-rated debut, The Brothers McMullen, he then, due to the outsized success of that one, continued mostly to repeat himself with movies that tend to glorify male caddishness, while misunderstanding women (though this did seem to be changing a bit in a film like his Purple Violets). In his latest we get themes and characters like the overbearing mother, abused girl friend, a senior citizen at the end of life, an unfaithful/absentee dad, and the great-looking guy (Mr. Burns, of course) who just can't seem to land a decent girlfriend.

That gone-for-decades dad (the recently-deceased Ed Lauter, above, left, with Michael McGlone) now wants back into the family, for reasons that will soon become apparent. Mom (Anita Gillette, the redhead shown bottom, center) says no, while their multiple offspring seem rather split in their views.

Not one of those offspring save the most fabulous one (you can guess who plays him) will even show up for mom's birthday, while the increasingly dumb behavior of one sis (Kerry Bishé, above left) and bro (Mr. McGlone) manages to hook their respective boyfriend (Noah Emmerich, above, right) and girlfriend up to each other. In fact, so much of the behavior on view is either lame-brained or super-convenient/coincidental that believability and interest soon depart.

And the happy ending you can see coming a mile away (but hope against hope will not arrive) does manage to land with its own built-in kicker: If ever a family deserved each other, it's this one. The Fitzgerald Family Christmas, that very rare holiday turkey that seems both over-cooked and under-done, can be streamed on Netflix, viewed via Amazon Instant Video or purchased on DVD.

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