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Not-so-sly 'Family Stone'

By Peter Rainer / December 16, 2005



Could we please declare a moratorium on funny-sad movies about dysfunctional families, especially families that come together for the holidays?

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And while we're at it, could we also cool it with the yuppie bashing?

In "The Family Stone," Sarah Jessica Parker plays Meredith, a shrill, speed-dialing New York career woman in tailored suits and spike-heeled pumps who accompanies her fiancé, Everett, played by Dermot Mulroney, to his annual Stone family New England Christmas. The caricature is so cruel that you don't know whom to feel sorrier for - Meredith or the actress playing her.

Writer-director Thomas Bezucha practically turns the Stones into the Addams family: Besides the creepily strait-laced Everett, the brood includes his brother Ben (Luke Wilson), whose West Coast address presumably means he's a free spirit; their sister Amy (Rachel McAdams), who takes an instant dislike to Meredith - go figure; and Thad (Ty Giordano), who is both deaf and gay. (Giordano, who is actually deaf, gives the film's only human-scaled performance.)

Claire Danes, who still seems in a swoon from this fall's romantic comedy "Shopgirl," turns up as Meredith's sister, and Diane Keaton, as the family matriarch, does her considerable best to add some flesh tones to her Crayola role. Grade: C

Rated PG-13 for some sexual content, including dialogue, and drug references.

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