The Family Stone

The Family Stone (2005)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Claire Danes, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Dermot Mulroney, Craig T. Nelson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Luke Wilson
Extras: Audio Commentaries, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, Interviews, Trailers
Rating:

Quite the ensemble cast delivering likeable performances helps make "The Family Stone" a rather believable film that offers its share of humor and touching moments.

Set against the backdrop of New England during the Christmas season, Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) brings his high-powered and high-strung girlfriend Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) home to meet his family in "The Family Stone". Meeting the Stone family proves to be somewhat of a challenge as Meredith gets the cold shoulder and even outright hostility from Everett's parents and siblings. As the tension mounts, relationships become strained, new connections are formed and the emotional balance of the family is threatened when a devastating secret begins to surface. You almost feel a bit sorry for the way Meredith is greeted upon her arrival at the Stone residence, wondering what she could have done to deserve such treatment. As the film progresses, I actually developed an undeniable hatred towards her character, if only for he flat out stupidity and talent for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time making for some rather embarrassing moments.

"The Family Stone" plays a bit on the depressing side of relationships, often presenting an uncontrollable feeling of defiance between the characters and their relationships toward one another. Under the rougher exterior, "The Family Stone" does have a softer side that mixes light humor and deep emotion that will work at tugging your heartstrings.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment introduces "The Family Stone" to DVD with a decent all around release. The transfer is free from any visible dust or dirt particles, with minor grain produced by the video compression that becomes evident in a few scenes. The DVD exhibits a deep rich black level that is a bit too opulent at times. This tends to rob the image of finer detailing such as; wrinkles in dark jackets and subtleties in hairstyles, etc. Color saturation is good, managing to display naturally appearing flesh tones throughout. Overall the image is quite enjoyable, but due to the overactive black level, whites tend to look slightly gray. This being a holiday movie with its share of snowy scenes taking place around Christmas, that's not always a good thing.

The conservative soundtrack displays pretty much what you would expect for a melodrama. Vocal tracks are natural in reproduction, with the mix appearing balanced but focused more on the front as there is minimal input from lower frequency or surround channels.

There is a nice compliment of supplemental material to be found under the special features section on "The Family Stone".

The first of two audio commentary tracks feature actors Sarah Jessica Parker and Dermot Mulroney. The second provides a more technical behind-the-scenes perspective as it features writer/director Thomas Bezucha, producer Michael London, editor Jeffrey Ford and production designer Jane Ann Stewart.

A nice inclusion of six deleted scenes with a running time of just over five minutes features the option to view with or without an audio commentary from writer/director Thomas Bezucha and editor Jeffrey Ford.

A "Fox Movie Channel Presents" section offers short featurettes including a casting session segment, footage from the world premiere and a basic behind-the-scenes spotlight.

A short Q&A session with the cast at the Screen Actors Guild Theater provides some additional personal inputs on production as the actors discuss their individual characters.

An "Outrageous Gag Reel" and the "Morton Family Strata" recipe presented in text form, with a good selection of teasers and trailers for "The Family Stone" complete the special features section.

Although not originally what I had expected, "The Family Stone" might just find that it has earned a spot under the "holiday films that poke fun at meeting the in-laws" sub genre. Overall, "The Family Stone" is a well done film that is, at the very least, destined to entertain.

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