There's a great cast in The Family Stone (not to be confused with Sly and his own Family Stone), one of those films that came and went over the holiday season of 2005 and will no doubt go on to find a snug place on December back-channel television lineups, sandwiched between Jingle All the Way, Love Actually and The Santa Clause 3. I caught it yesterday afternoon over the course of a couple Abby naps courtesy of HBO's On Demand movie fare.
The great cast is headed up by Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson who play the loving parents of the Stone family. But the great cast are slathered over 103 minutes of warmed over Hollywood liberalism and equally soft-hearted sentiment dolled out with an almost admirable sense of guilelessness.
There's a scene around the dinner table on Christmas Eve that plays like CNN's Crossfire as Keaton, playing the matriarch Stone, protects her beatific deaf and gay son (but no incurable disease for him!-- that honor goes to Keaton, who's cancer has returned thus allowing for a long parade of tears, hugs and gently falling snow) from the slings and arrows of Sarah Jessica Parker's Meredith Morton, an anxious, materialistic, illiberal type who may actually marry Mr. and Mrs. Stone's first son, played by a zombie-like Dermot Mulroney.
Parker's Morton repeatedly sticks her foot in her mouth, the end of which has her character awkwardly declaring that no reasonable parent would ever wish their child to be gay, life being difficult enough as it is. This is too much, of course. Such a dazzling check list of conservative homophobia is met with righteous indignation. And it isn't so much that I disagree with this indignation, a proper response to the strong currents of homosexual intolerance that run through so much of America, so much as the whole scene, like much of the movie as a whole, feigns innocence while serving us a primer in lefty wholesomeness every bit as white bread and stilted as Sam Brownback dancing to YMCA at a wedding.