The Stones are easygoing but also insular and Hollywood-style liberal. They tend to use sign language because the gay younger brother Thad (Tyrone Giordano) is deaf. In case anyone in the audience has any problem with openly homosexual characters, the writer and director Thomas Bezucha supplies Thad with an African American lover (Brian White), and later they adopt an African American child. So, the Stones are not only winsomely eccentric, but also in-your-face politically correct.
As in a Shakespeare comedy, the plot of The Family Stone boils down to some girlfriend boyfriend-swapping on Christmas Eve. Everyone says the wrong thing, apologizes, learns about him or herself, and tears up because one Stone has a well-hidden mortal illness. Given the film’s sentimentality, mostly only the ensemble acting held my interest. Since I am acquainted with her excellent 1980s work with Woody Allen, it seemed creepy to see Diane Keaton (as Sybil Stone) look so grandmatronly with graying hair covering her temples and glasses. She suddenly resembles the elderly Ann Bancroft. Her character’s son, Everett, wishes for her to give him her mother’s wedding ring (hence the title Family Stone). He wants to use the ring so he can propose to Meredith, but she understandably balks at this idea.
As the laidback Ben Stone, Luke Wilson steals his scenes mostly by cheerfully doing nothing. Just before Meredith leaves for the hotel, Ben carries some coffee out to her car, and just stands there in his grey sweat pants and t-shirt, looking nonchalant. By underplaying his line readings,
Do you like your holiday cheer poured on like maple syrup? Do you like to join rich families as they laugh, cry, and spill uncooked casserole on themselves? Are you in the mood for allusions to Meet Me in