Whenever I meet someone new inevitably I'm asked where I'm from. For simplicity's sake I say I'm from Northern Virginia outside of Washington, DC since that's where I graduated high school. When I get pressed about not having a Southern accent I say that I moved around a lot as a kid. "Oh! Where did you live?" I rattle off the various states and countries and talk about how moving has really shaped who I am.
Being a military brat is a mixed bag. Moving has made it fairly easy for me to be in a group of people I don't know and strike up a conversation. It helped me learn my social limits. And moving helped me appreciate different kinds of people and places in this world. But it also took some things from me. I don't know my relatives very well. I don't have a lot of long term friendships. And I don't have a place I can call home.
Being "homeless" is exacerbated by the fact that my father got orders to England my senior year and we moved the day after I graduated high school, my parents got divorced a year later, and my father and mother lived in considerably different time zones the years after that. My father has since retired to Myrtle Beach and my mother lives in Atlanta. Ugh. I can appreciate a lot in this world but humidity and toothlessness are not on that list. Needless to say, I don't see my family very much and holidays are some of the few times a year I am required to see them.
I haven't spent a holiday with my father since the Thanksgiving my stepmother wouldn't let my dad bring me to his house for reasons I don't believe. He and I were forced to spend the holiday in my mother's house (in which neither of us ever resided and while my mother and siblings were away in Florida) digesting a turkey loaf. That was in 2001. I've spent a Christmas with my mother crying incessantly about how my brother and sister were in Hawaii and it was all her fault that the family is split up like this. I've spent a Christmas when my siblings wouldn't let my mother's boyfriend come over until after 2pm. And I had lost many friends from high school that I could run to. That was fun. I can go on and on but you get the point. I don't like the holidays.
So as a person who dreads the holidays I was really looking forward to Four Christmases, a movie with characters who vacation instead of spend painful holidays with family. I thought maybe someone could take a crappy situation and make it dark and deeply funny. I love to laugh at things that depress me. And nothing makes me laugh harder than divorce. But I only really laughed at one part in this movie- a screaming congregation of white Christians going shit crazy for baby Jesus. Like I said, depressing means funny.
The movie had a tremendous amount of comedy gold to be mined and it failed to deliver. It should have been about more than just people who don't like their families- families who seemed to be nothing more than innocuously annoying. It should have been about parents playing against each other, parents feeling guilt, the dynamic of how awkward it is to be around people who are sleeping with your parents, parents thinking you failed to live up to expectations and having to hear about it twice, or coming to terms with the mistakes people made and not making them yourself. I know this isn't a tall order for a comedy- it's been done, see Home for the Holidays.
Maybe it could have been a great comedy. Or maybe I can just learn to find humor in my own situation and not look to Vince Vaughn for dark and insightful humor. I don't think he can find anything insightful if it crawled out of his poorly improvised ass.