Things In Four Christmases Only Adults Notice

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, at least, for some families. Though this holiday tends to include gift-giving, festive dinners, holiday music on repeat, and spending time with the people you care about, it's not that simple for everyone. "Four Christmases" adequately portrays the confusion that can mark the celebration and includes quite a few elements that will likely land differently for kids and adults.

Holiday comedy "Four Christmases" follows Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon), a happy couple who seem to have everything. This includes a luxurious apartment, successful careers (though the details are glossed over), and the simple fact that they love each other. However, they don't have the one thing all happy couples are supposed to have — a piece of paper that states they're married. However, both of their sets of parents are split up, which is why they typically skip the holidays season and instead go on an exotic vacation for two. Fate intervenes this year when a fog storm blocks the skies and their flight can't leave, forcing them, at long last, to visit all four of their families on Christmas.

What follows is utter chaos for Brad and Kate. Let's take a look at the film and some of the things that only adults will notice in "Four Christmases."

Four different Christmases sounds like an everlasting nightmare

As a child, multiple Christmases –– especially in the same year –– might sound like a winter wonderland come true. Yet, as an adult, attending more than one Christmas can be a bit overwhelming. Going to four different houses to celebrate four different Christmases with four different families sounds like a complete nightmare. Not to mention that while "Four Christmases" is a comedy, having to attend four different Christmases because of divorce is a tad depressing. Never mind the fact that traveling to each event would be time-consuming and probably pretty expensive.

Christmas can be a truly magical time, especially when you're spending the holiday with people you love –– yet when you're forced to celebrate with people who don't make you happy, the festive spirit of the holiday tends to wane. In the case of this film, Brad and Kate are forced to spend four different Christmases with the same people they try so hard to avoid all year long, which any adult knows is a recipe for a terrible holiday season.

Brad and Kate actually have a strong and healthy relationship

At the beginning of "Four Christmases," Brad and Kate have a strong relationship. They still date one another. They take dancing lessons together. Yet, since the societal pressures of marriage are so intense, they're somehow not complete because they haven't gotten married yet. Though many holiday comedies feature the star couple getting married by the movie's end, many adult viewers will realize that marriage doesn't inherently make people happy for the rest of their lives. In fact, marriage isn't for everyone. Yet the events of this film make Brad and Kate change their core beliefs — all in one day.

Though everyone is different, it's not uncommon for married people to stop dating each other. Often this means that they no longer go out to dinner, attend events, or even leave the house outside of work and grocery trips. Yet Brad and Kate still have romantic outings with each other –– and not because they feel forced to do those things but because they genuinely desire to be in each other's company. They're not perfect, and they do hide little tidbits about their lives from one another, but it's evident that they're actually in a pretty healthy and active relationship.

Brad and Kate avoid their problems

Though Brad and Kate seem to have everything figured out –– and in a way, they do –– it's evident they avoid their problems, or at least their family problems. Though it might not be as easy for kids to spot this in "Four Christmases," adults will notice that Brad and Kate create rules in an attempt to tackle the trials and tribulations of life. Though these rules aren't necessarily the issue, they seemingly allow Brad and Kate to avoid their family issues instead of actually facing them.

There's nothing wrong with the couple not wanting to spend the holidays with their families, yet the fact that they lie about their actual plans is telling. It's not always easy to tell people how you feel, especially those who you care about. Still, Brad and Kate would be better suited telling their family how their behavior affects them, rather than lie to them and say they can't make Christmas because they're doing charity work in another country. Luckily, they eventually let honesty flood out, but not before presumably creating a web of lies that spans years.

Free hotel accommodations aren't easy to come by

Brad and Kate's flight is canceled because of fog, which sets off the events of "Four Christmases." The fact that the airline is willing to hook them up with complimentary hotel accommodations, given that every single flight appeared to be canceled, is a minor Christmas miracle. The airline, after all, would potentially have to give every other passenger –– of every canceled flight –– hotel accommodations, which doesn't happen in the real world. Yet Brad still complains that the hotel accommodations don't meet his standards since he was hoping to be living it up in Fiji.

Brad has every right to be upset –– a hotel airport likely doesn't even come close to a resort hotel in Fiji –– yet any adult who has had to deal with an inflexible airline will realize how ungrateful Brad is. In the real world, when a flight is canceled, passengers have to wait at the airport for their rescheduled flight, hoping that something becomes available on the same day. Brad and Kate would at least be able to rest and recuperate at a hotel instead of sleeping on the floor of the airport.

Why were there so many kids in the bouncy castle?

At Kate's family's house, there's a bouncy castle for the kids, which is all well and good. Not only is this good entertainment for the children, but it also serves a point in advancing the plot of "Four Christmases" as it calls back to the fact that Kate is terrified of these modern-day playgrounds. Yet the bouncy castle is flooded with kids, and that begs the question — why are there so many children in the inflatable castle?

It's Christmas, after all, So it seems like the kids would be with their parents. Though Kate's sister, Courtney (Kristin Chenoweth), does point out that Kate is finally playing with her kids when she sees her in the bouncy castle, they presumably weren't all her children. It might sound nitpicky, but there were a huge number of children, all basically unattended, in the bouncy castle, on Christmas. Everyone has different Christmas traditions, but it seems bizarre that the children wouldn't be with their families, decking the halls at their own family's holiday events and playing with their newly received Christmas gifts.

Brad and Kate are assaulted, yet it's shrugged off as humor

"Four Christmases" might be a holiday romantic comedy, a genre that routinely has far-fetched elements. Still, adults will notice that Brad and Kate are assaulted by their family members in multiple separate events. However, these somewhat violent and uncomfortable incidents are shrugged off as humorous. In Brad's case, his brothers, who are amateur UFC fighters, practically beat him up, and no one does anything about it, all in the name of comedy.

As for Kate, the kids attack her when she's in the bouncy castle, and then she eventually starts fighting back. Again, no one does anything about these events. This is a comedy with some slight slapstick elements, yet as adults will notice, these two occurrences are a little absurd. After all, assault shouldn't be normalized, humored, or tolerated. Luckily, no one seems to need medical attention, and as such, each one of these events is shrugged off as inconsequential.

Brad and Kate's families are judgmental

Brad and Kate aren't wrong for not wanting to spend the holidays with their many families. For starters, their families –– especially Brad's –– are judgmental and jealous of their success. Brad's brothers and father make fun of him for having money, and they act like he thinks he's better than them based on this one factor. As for Kate, her family subtlety manipulates her by telling her she should be married and have kids by a certain age. As more seasoned viewers will understand, not everyone wants to be married and have kids, and it's not the only measure of success. A white-picket-fence ending isn't for everyone, and that's totally fine.

Above all else, Brad and Kate are good people and they've blazed their own trail, but they're tired of being ridiculed for their decisions. Especially by family members who supposedly care about them yet can be critical and undermining.

Brad and Kate tackle their fears in one day

A lot happens in one day in "Four Christmases." Not only do Brad and Kate attend, naturally, four Christmas parties, but they also tackle some of their biggest fears. Though it backfires on him and his brothers subsequently attack him, Brad, at long last, sticks up to his family and tries to set boundaries. Beyond that, even though Kate is attacked by children and then ends up fighting back, she does step foot in a bouncy castle, a dark place for her that stems from childhood trauma. Kate also has crippling stage fright, yet she overcomes that fear when she gets on stage at church for the Christmas play.

These events aren't easy for the main characters to navigate, yet Kate and Brad confront them all on the same day. That is a lot of progress to make in less than 24 hours. As the two navigate their past traumas, they eventually grow by coming face-to-face with their biggest fears. That said, it is also revealed that Brad's real name is Orlando, a secret he has been trying to hide from Kate –– yet all these hidden truths came out in one day, leading Brad and Kate to learn more about each other and become closer than ever.

Four separate Christmases is unnecessary

We understand that the movie is titled "Four Christmases," so the film is kind of stuck with featuring four holidays. However, are four separate Christmases truly necessary for this family? Brad and Kate go to four different Christmas outings, yet some of the same people show up at the same events. Wouldn't it make sense to have one big Christmas? Or, at the least, two to three Christmases?

The point of "Four Christmases" is that Brad and Kate have two parents each, and everyone wants to host a separate party. However, in Kate's case, her mom and dad are both at her father's Christmas party. It makes sense that each parent would want to spend equal amounts of alone time with their children, but if all the same people are going to be at Kate's parents' parties, it would be plausible for them to have a combined Christmas. 

Of course, a more realistic and reasonable solution would take away from Brad and Kate's key issue. After all, the whole reason they initially don't want to get married is that they don't want to put pressure on their relationship by slapping a label on it. They're children of divorce, and they don't want to make the same mistakes as their parents. Three Christmases would still be messy, but four distinct occasions do seem to get the point across better.

Brad and Kate could have just as easily created their own makeshift family

Though "Four Christmases" was released in 2008, the concept of family has morphed quite a bit over the years, and adults watching the film will know that being a part of a family can mean many things. Just because you're related to a group of people doesn't mean you are necessarily obligated to spend time with them, and nothing is stopping you from creating your own makeshift family.

If Brad and Kate don't like being around their families, which they clearly do not, then they could have just as easily created their own found family involving people close to them. Many people are estranged from their family members or simply opt to spend holidays with friends, and this concept is becoming more accepted as many people just want to be happy. If being around family isn't a good fit, Brad and Kate don't have to waste more time with them. 

Of course, families are complicated, but in Brad and Kate's case, it appears they would have been better off if they had established a new, perhaps less traditional family to spend time with. It would have, at the least, made for a holiday season less infused with judgment and stress.

Brad and Kate's families don't change

Although Brad and Kate eventually decide they want to start a family towards the end of "Four Christmases," it doesn't change the fact that their relatives are still mostly awful to them. Adults will understand that just because the couple manages to change over that crazy day, it doesn't mean their families will. Brad's brothers are still going to bully him, for example. Brad and Kate are ready to grow, but that doesn't mean everyone else around them is in the same frame of mind. Their mindsets might shift, but that doesn't mean anyone else's perspective is about to change. In most cases, one person's breakthrough doesn't always result in another person's.

Ultimately, the only aspect that appears to morph by the movie's end is that Brad and Kate are ready to be more traditionally committed to each other than at the beginning of the film. While their difficult extended family may not have provided a good example for them, they are now ready to get married, have kids, and generally move on to the next part of their lives together.

Brad and Kate still lie to their families

Despite realizing they should tell the truth, Brad and Kate inevitably end up lying to their families once again by not letting them know they're pregnant –– all in the name of comedy, of course. 

At the end of the film, Brad and Kate are again caught on live TV, this time when a camera crew wants to interview them for having the first baby of the New Year. Since Brad and Kate don't tell their families they are pregnant, they obviously don't tell them which hospital Kate is giving birth in. This means is that Brad and Kate have gone through this entire soul-searching journey just to repeat the same mistakes they made regarding their family in the beginning. All of this just proves the point that if they don't like their families, they should probably stop jumping through hoops to try to please them.

Nevertheless, "Four Christmases" is a fun holiday romp that's flooded with twists and turns, comedic elements, and a happy ending. It might not go down as the best Christmas movie of all time, and the main characters might, in a way, start and finish the film in the same place, yet it all works out for Brad and Kate in the end.