Article Title:The Family Stone
Author or Credit:Chris Banks
Published on:4th January 2006 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:1065
Text:Review: THE FAMILY STONE Dir: Thomas Bezucha US, 2005, 35mm, 102 mins Now showing at selected cinemas Gay director Thomas Bezucha has followed up his excellent Capra-esque festival hit Big Eden (seen here at Out Takes a few years ago) with this mainstream top 10 American box office hit – which features rather prominently an interracial gay couple who want to adopt a child, with the complete support of their extended family. The Christian Right will not be pleased, and neither will any moviegoer who detests sentiment so thick it can only be removed with a snowplough. It's Christmastime for the Stone family, and Everett is about to introduce his soon-to-be fiancee to the family. Will they approve of her? Will she approve of them? Will a family member have a terminal illness? Will that elaborately prepared breakfast dish end up setting the scene for a slapstick laughfest finale? If you're a fan of these kind of movies, you'll already know the answer to all of the above questions, and be prepared to tell the cynics that it's not the ending but the journey that matters. But while Bezucha's picture postcard fantasy world worked wonderfully in Big Eden, he doesn't quite manage to pull it off in The Family Stone. Several plot and character twists seeming forced by story convention rather than by necessity, and many of the emotional moments fail to really tug at the heartstrings. Where Bezucha has managed to pull off a major coup is in reminding America, at a time when they scarcely need more reminding, that gays are part of the family too, and doing it by including three-dimensional chracters that aren't tokenistic. Why is it that only gay and lesbian writers seem to be able to do this? In Big Eden, Bezucha had diminuitive artist Henry Hart falling in love with Pike Dexter, the giant American Indian storekeeper. In The Family Stone, Thad is the deaf gay brother that everyone loves, and his African-American partner Patrick is unquestionably part of the family. He's also a good cook (OK, so he got one stereotype in there). Not only does the couple get to be as affectionate on-screen as all the other couples, an entire scene revolves around love and acceptance of all family members. A heated discussion at the dinnertable arises out of Thad and Patrick's desire to adopt a child, both about what race they'll want their child to be and concerns over whether the child won't grow up "normal". If you haven't already guessed, it's Everett's girlfriend Meredith that causes all this trouble, and that's just the beginning. Played by Sarah Jessica Parker in a big departure from her Sex In The City character, it's faux pas after faux pas from the moment she arrives. Will she ever win the affections of this crazy clan? Like I said, you already know the answer. It's the season, though, isn't it? And despite some dragging moments and areas where the angst has been laid on a little too thick, it's still a heartwarming entry into the Yuletide genre. Chris Banks - 4th January 2006    
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