8. Four Christmases
The message: You have to see your family, even at the cost of your mental and physical health
Okay, okay, Four Christmases isn’t particularly popular, no – but it does have a really problematic message. Releasing in 2008, Four Christmases bombed with critics but made a reasonable sum at the box office, and has remained in seasonal circulation ever since (thus proving that Christmas films don’t need to be of any real quality to achieve success). It’s also the first film on this list to have previously featured in our list of dysfunctional festive families, and its appearance here is very much tied to that dysfunction.
When Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) find their plans for a Christmas getaway to Fiji ruined by inclement weather, the white lie they told their parents is exposed on television. This leads to both sets of divorced parents pressuring the couple to visit for Christmas, despite the fact that they were clearly attempting to avoid doing so. With seemingly no other option, Brad and Kate buckle, and agree to visit all four parents, hence the film’s title.
However, the message that Four Christmases sends is not entirely healthy. It’s made clear through a series of “comedic” events that both Brad and Kate were justified in avoiding their respective families – Brad is physically assaulted by his brothers, and Kate is bullied by hers. Eventually, of course, they all make amends (because it’s Christmas – why else?), which only hammers home the problematic message that you should make allowances for your family’s toxic behavior instead of avoiding the misery.