Four Christmases appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While not one of the best-looking Blu-rays I’ve seen, this one was pretty positive.
Definition provided the only minor issues. Though most of the flick came across as concise and distinctive, occasional bouts of light softness occurred. These primarily affected wide shots, and they weren’t dominant, but they made things just a tad ill-defined at times. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement remained absent. I also failed to notice any source defects.
With its Yuletide tones, the colors of Four Christmases looked nice. The hues took on a warm, full appearance that suited them and seemed rich and full. Blacks were dense and dark, while shadows showed good clarity and depth. The periodic instances of mild softness made this a “B”, but it was more than acceptable most of the time.
Don’t expect much from the decidedly lackluster Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Four Christmases. Even with a handful of comedy set pieces, the soundfield remained quite subdued. Occasional effects elements cropped up from the sides, and a few pieces moved from one spot to another, but this was usually a very laid-back soundscape that offered little in the way of auditory impact.
That meant virtually nothing from the surrounds. The forward speakers had little to do, so one couldn’t expect the back channels to provide much life. Only the Jump Jump sequence made me aware that the rear speakers were actually activated, as the rest of the movie remained strongly bound to the front.
At least audio quality was good. Speech sounded consistently natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music appeared full and clear, and effects provided good accuracy. Nothing challenged my system, but the material sounded fine. The decidedly low-key nature of the soundfield left this as a “C+”, though.
When I compared this release to the DVD version, I thought the Blu-ray offered both auditory and visual improvements. Granted, the two soundtracks remained pretty similar. I gave the TrueHD mix the edge simply because it seemed a little more dynamic; the standard DD 5.1 edition was a little less forceful. That meant I went with a “C+” for the TrueHD versus a “C” for the DD, but the two were still a lot alike.
On the other hand, the Blu-ray looked a whole lot better than the DVD. The latter offered mediocre visuals, so the transfer got an upgrade here. The Blu-ray lacked the artifacts of the DVD and looked clearer and better defined across the board. Though the Blu-ray didn’t excel, it was still a noticeable improvement over the lackluster DVD.
While the DVD came with virtually no supplements, we get a mix of bonus features on the Blu-ray. We open with three featurettes. Four Christmases: Holiday Moments goes for 10 minutes, 50 seconds and offers notes from producer Jonathan Glickman, director Seth Gordon, production designer Shepherd Frankel, and actors Mary Steenburgen, Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall, Katy Mixon, Tim McGraw and Jon Favreau.
“Moments” looks at a variety of film moments and some aspects of their shooting such as production design, performances and a few other production tidbits. Essentially a promo piece, it starts and ends with superficial fluff. However, in between, we get some good facts about the shoot. Those don’t totally redeem the featurette, but at least they make it worth a look.
HBO First Look - Four Christmases: Behind the Madness lasts 13 minutes, two seconds and includes remarks from Vaughn, Witherspoon, Gordon, Glickman, Duvall, Steenburgen, Mixon, McGraw, executive producer/actor Peter Billingsley, and actors Dwight Yoakum, Jon Voight, Kristin Chenoweth, Patrick Van Horn and Sissy Spacek. “First Look” exists to promote the movie, and that’s virtually all it does. It tells us how wonderful and funny the movie is, and we see plenty of clips. Almost no useful info emerges.
Lastly, we find the 10-minute Seven Layer Holiday Meals in a Flash. Celebrity chef Paula Deen works with Mixon in character to produce white trash dinners. Though Mixon looks pretty hot, Deen is annoying, and the program’s attempted humor doesn’t materialize.
Next comes a Gag Reel. It goes for two minutes, 34 seconds as it presents the standard assortment of mistakes and laughing. I thought maybe we’d at least find some interesting improv moments, but instead it’s just forgettable silliness.
Seven Additional Scenes fill a total of eight minutes, 21 seconds. Most of these are alternate or extended versions of existing scenes, though a few totally new bits emerge. The most obvious omission comes from the sequence that formally lets us meet Pastor Phil; he’s just kind of there in the final flick, but he receives a more appropriate introduces him. The odd relationship with Brad’s mom and her much younger husband also gets more attention, and we find an alternate ending that lets us see all involved four years down the road. None of the clips are particularly interesting, but at least some of them offer substance.
A second disc offers a Digital Copy of the movie. This allows you to transfer the film to a computer or portable gadget. Happy holidays!
If anyone could tell me how a film that features Vince Vaughn and five – that’s right, five - Oscar-winning actors could be as awful as Four Christmases, I’d love to hear the explanation. Despite an interesting concept and all that talent, the movie adds up to little more than a collection of violent/gross gags with phony relationship drama tacked on to make it more “meaningful”. The Blu-ray provides generally good picture, decent audio, and a smattering of supplements.
There are far too many good Christmas movies for me to recommend this insulting nonsense. If you like it, though, go with the Blu-ray instead of the DVD. The Blu-ray offers significant presentation improvements, so it’s the way to go.
To rate this film, visit the original review of FOUR CHRISTMASES