Four Christmases

  • Directors: Seth Gordon
  • Producers: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon
  • Writers: Matt Allen, Caleb Wilson, Scott Moore, Jon Lucas
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Sissy Spacek, Robert Duvall, Kristin Chenoweth

No one enjoys the holidays more than Orlando “Brad” McVie (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon). Every December 25th, this happily unmarried, upscale San Francisco couple embark on a holiday tradition they have shared every year since they met – ditching their crazy families for a relaxing, fun-filled vacation in some sunny exotic locale. There, sipping margaritas by the pool, they toast the season, knowing they once again avoided the chaos and emotional fallout of their four respective households: divorced parents, squabbling siblings, out-of-control kids and all the simmering resentments and awkward moments that are the hallmarks of every family Christmas. But not in Christmas 2006. Shorts and sunglasses packed, Brad and Kate are trapped at the San Francisco airport by a fogbank that cancels every outbound flight. Worse yet, they are caught on camera by a local news crew, revealing their whereabouts to the whole city… and to their families.

With no escape and no excuses, they are now expected home by Brad’s father (Robert Duvall) and Kate’s mother (Mary Steenburgen), as well as Brad’s mother (Sissy Spacek) and Kate’s father (Jon Voight), thereby celebrating four Christmases in one day. As they brace themselves for a marathon of homecomings, Brad and Kate expect the worst-and that’s exactly what they get. But as Brad counts down the minutes to their freedom, Kate surprisingly finds herself tuned to the ticking of a different clock. At the end of the day, each will gain a new perspective on where they came from… and where they’re going. Getting to know themselves and each other as they really are could finally give them a chance at the kind of love they’ve only been playing at. Kate decides she would like to someday start a family, scaring Brad away. Brad eventually comes back to Kate, surprising her at her door with the line “If we’re going to have one, we must have two, so they can play together,” as he realises how empty his life is and how much he loves Kate.

A year later on New Year’s Day 2008, the couple welcomes their first born child in a hospital: a baby girl. They attempted to keep the child’s birth a secret from their families, but once again they were caught on camera by a local news crew who was covering the first birth of the new year thereby revealing the arrival of the child to the city…and to their families.

Cruel Intentions

  • Directors: Roger Kumble
  • Producers: Neal H Moritz
  • Writers: Choderlos de Laclos, Roger Kumble
  • Genres: Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • Actors: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, Sean Patrick Thomas, Christine Baranski

Kathryn Merteuil (Sarah Michelle Gellar), the image of social perfection, takes the sheltered and naive Cecile Caldwell (Selma Blair) under her wing, promising to turn Cecile into a model student like herself. Kathryn’s real intention, however, is to take revenge on Court Reynolds, her ex-lover, who dumped her for the “innocent little twit” Cecile. She intends to corrupt Cecile by getting her to sleep with as many men as possible, thereby destroying her reputation and teaching Court a lesson.

She asks for the help of her womanizing step-brother, Sebastian Valmont (Ryan Phillippe). Though Kathryn and Sebastian have collaborated in schemes of manipulation before, he initially refuses. He is busy planning another “conquest”, the beautiful Annette Hargrove (Reese Witherspoon), a girl who has written a manifesto saying that she plans to keep her virginity intact until she is in love. By coincidence, she is temporarily staying at his aunt’s estate. Kathryn does not think Sebastian has a chance with Annette, so they make a wager. If Kathryn wins, she gets Sebastian’s vintage Jaguar, a 1956 XK140 Roadster; if Sebastian wins, she offers him a night of passion with her, as Kathryn knows she is the only girl Sebastian cannot bed.

In the final shot, Annette drives away in Sebastian’s Jaguar, putting his sunglasses on, with his journal by her side.

Walk the Line

  • Directors: James Mangold
  • Producers: James Keach, Cathy Konrad
  • Writers: Gill Dennis, James Mangold
  • Genres: Biography, Drama, Music, Romance
  • Actors: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Patrick, Tyler Hilton

The film details Johnny Cash’s life from his growing up as the son of a cotton picker in Dyess, Arkansas, dealing with the death of his brother, his drug addiction, subsequent rescue by future wife June Carter, and his famous concert at Folsom State Prison.

The film opens in medias res with an exterior shot of Folsom Prison in 1968. The grounds are quiet except for the faint sound of music. Two guards on their tower peer at the main building. As we slowly approach the main building, the music begins to increase in volume. The camera tracks past empty cells and halls as the music becomes louder and more distinct; now cheering can be heard. Finally we see the source of the cheering: an audience of inmates for Johnny Cash’s band, which is playing a vamp. In the next shot, a table saw rests on a table as a hand casually strokes the blade. After repeated calls, we are made aware that the hand is that of Johnny Cash. The blade reminds Johnny of his youth and particularly of the death of his brother. (Later we learn that the voice calling him onstage is that of the prison warden.)

June tearfully agrees, and after a long embrace the scene fades to the deck of Cash’s home in Hendersonville. Cash watches his father interact with his newest daughters Rosie and Carlene. He jokes with his father, their tense relationship having apparently begun to heal. The final shot shows Cash continuing down the stairs to the pier, looking up, and meeting June’s eyes where she is fishing with her father. They look at each other and Cash smiles and the frame freezes; the scene then changes to footage of the couple performing together, with brief biographical information about Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash superimposed over it.

Sweet Home Alabama

  • Directors: Andy Tennant
  • Producers: David Brown, Michael Tolkin
  • Writers: Douglas J Eboch, C Jay Cox
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance
  • Actors: Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey, Fred Ward, Candice Bergen, Mary Kay Place

The story is a love triangle involving two childhood Alabama sweethearts who married but became estranged, Jake Perry (Josh Lucas) and Melanie Smooter (Reese Witherspoon), and Melanie’s longtime boyfriend Andrew Hennings (Patrick Dempsey).

Melanie is a successful fashion designer. When she becomes engaged to Andrew, the son of the mayor of New York City (Candice Bergen), Melanie announces that she has to go back home alone to Alabama to tell her parents in person. Her private reason is to demand a divorce from Jake. She has not told Andrew that she is still married.

Jake refuses to divorce her until she goes down to the bar and gets really drunk. She begins to spill everyone’s secrets, the more important of them being Bobby Ray’s homosexuality and her pregnancy with Jake that was the cause of their split, which Jake has yet to get over. Jake takes her out of the bar, and refusing to let her drive home in her current state, takes her keys off her, says goodnight to his ‘hot date,’ and drives her home. When she wakes up the next morning, the divorce papers are laying on her bed signed by Jake.

Melanie learns that Jake had once gone to New York City to try to find her, to say sorry and to tell her that he loved her. That night they go to a dance, on her way out she sees the sign saying “dog cemetery.” She goes down to say an emotional goodbye and to apologize to Bear. Jake sees her heading in that direction and slowly makes his way there. Melanie is saying “…I bet you sat there wondering what you had done wrong” and to announce his presence, Jake says “I told him it was my fault.” They proceed to sit down and talk about the baby they lost and have the conversation they should have had years ago had they wanted to stay together for the years in between. Jake gives a blessing for Melanie to have a good life with Andrew, but Melanie says she can’t do it and they kiss. For a moment Jake goes along with it, but he appreciates that they aren’t married anymore and he pushes her away and tells her to go home.

As the credits roll, the audience can see pictures of after the wedding. They see that Melanie and Jake have a little girl, they have opened a shop in a city and are living quite happily together.

Monsters vs Aliens

  • Directors: Conrad Vernon, Rob Letterman
  • Producers: Lisa Stewart, Jill Hopper, Latifa Ouaou
  • Writers: Maya Forbes, Wallace Wolodarsky, Rob Letterman, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Conrad Vernon
  • Genres: Animation, Action, Sci-Fi
  • Actors: Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Rainn Wilson, Kiefer Sutherland, Stephen Colbert

Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) is hit by a meteor on the day of her wedding to weatherman Derek Dietl (Paul Rudd), absorbing a substance called quantonium and growing into a giantess. Alerted to the meteor crash, the military arrive and capture Susan. She is labeled a monster, renamed “Ginormica”, and sent to a top-secret prison facility headed by General W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland) and containing other monsters: B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), a brainless, indestructible gelatinous blob; Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D. (Hugh Laurie), a mad scientist with the head and abilities of a cockroach; the Missing Link (Will Arnett), an amphibious fish-ape hybrid; and Insectosaurus, a colossal grub that is even larger than Susan. The monsters are forbidden to have any contact with the outside world; while the other monsters have been living contentedly with this lifestyle for the past 50 years, Susan feels incredibly isolated and wishes to return to her old life.

An alien named Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) detects the quantonium radiation emanating from Earth and deploys a gigantic robotic probe to find it and extract it from its source, Susan. After a botched attempt by the President of the United States (Stephen Colbert) to make first contact with the robot, it begins destroying everything in sight, resisting all conventional military force used against it. General Monger convinces the President to use the monsters to fight the robot instead. The monsters accept the mission with the promise of freedom if they succeed. Arriving in San Francisco, Susan is chased by the robot across the city to the Golden Gate Bridge, where the monsters are able to defeat the robot.

The monsters receive a hero’s welcome upon their return. Derek attempts to get back with Susan for the sake of interviewing her, which could benefit his career; instead, Susan rejects him and forces him to endure the humiliation of being thrown into the air and caught, swallowed and spit out by B.O.B. on camera. At that moment, the monsters are alerted to a monster attack near Paris and fly off to combat the new menace.