‘The Fitzgerald Family Christmas’ Movie Review – ‘Tis the Season
Like many people, the holiday season is my favorite time of the year. There’s nothing like decorating Christmas cookies, opening presents, and spending time with your loved ones, namely your family. That is…unless you have a greatly dysfunctional family. That’s what The Fitzgerald Family Christmas portrays as it shows us a maybe more realistic tale of the holidays. It’s a time for loving and joy, but that doesn’t mean that’s always the case. And overall, the movie rides the uneasy task of creating a bittersweet Christmas tale with pretty good effectiveness.
Directed, written, and starring Edward Burns, The Fitzgerald Family Christmas throws you right into the plot without much introduction. The Fitzgerald family is nine people deep, and the point is to learn about the seven kids and two parents as the movie goes on.
From the get-go, though, Gerry (Burns) is the clear leader. While some may resent him for it, he’s naturally the go-to guy that is trying to keep the three boys and four girls together. He’s essentially the Michael Bluth of Fitzgeralds.
The great divide between the family arises from the treatment of their estranged father (Ed Lauter) who inexplicably walked out on them 20 years earlier. Fearing it’ll be one of his last chances to make amends, he uses Gerry and Christmas as a way to get all nine of the Fitzgeralds in one room.
Although it is initially unclear how much each family member has suffered, you get snippets of each sibling’s life throughout the days leading up to Christmas day.
The Fitzgerald Family Christmas is an ensemble drama that relies heavily on creating character conflicts. Virtually the entire thing is conflict between characters and each character is realized just well enough to make the thing work. The actors themselves show off their dramatic chops as they portray the different quirks in each family member. No one character is the same, but you can tell they are related.
The main difference between this movie and other dysfunctional family Christmas stories is the complete lack of comedy. In movies, dysfunctional families are largely used a comedic device, but Burns uses practically none of that. Instead, he creates a script and story completely full of dialogue and absent of action. For some, this will be a turn-off because it’s basically 100ish minutes full of arguing. There are some lighter parts to the story, but it does come off as a tad melodramatic.
Still, even as a guy who hates being exploited into feeling emotion, there was a certain connection I had with the story. Then, when I had to take a look at my life, and my family, it made me appreciate the people around me. If that is the only thing I take away from the movie, I chalk it up as a success.
‘Tis the season for giving. And if that’s truly the case, Edward Burns has given us a more introspective look at family than most holiday flicks. While it’s still not even close to being one of my favorite Christmas movies, I’d still say The Fitzgerald Family Christmas has some interesting aspects. I didn’t mind the dialogue-heavy story, and I especially liked how well it constructed each and every character, even if it felt inherently melodramatic.
The Fitzgerald Family Christmas releases into theaters this weekend, and it was previously on Video On Demand (VOD) services. Look around for the best way to see it yourself!
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