The Fitzgerald Family Christmas


The Fitzgerald Family Christmas

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Average Rating: 3.3/5

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With THE FITZGERALD FAMILY CHRISTMAS, Burns returns to the working-class, Irish-American roots of THE BROTHERS MCMULLEN. Reuniting with McMullen co-stars Connie Britton ("Friday Night Lights", "Nashville"), and Michael McGlone, along with Noah Emmerich (LITTLE CHILDREN, BEAUTIFUL GIRLS), Kerry Bishé (ARGO, RED STATE) and Caitlin FitzGerald (DAMSELS IN DISTRESS, NEWLYWEDS) Burns seamlessly weaves an ensemble story of adult siblings dealing with the desire of their estranged father (Ed Lauter, THE ARTIST, THE LONGEST YARD) to return home for Christmas for the first time since he walked out on his family 20 years ago. Family rifts emerge, and like with any family, Christmas brings a mixed bag of complicated emotions and dynamics. Alliances form, old wounds are reopened or glossed over, and the possibility for a new hope and forgiveness emerges. (c) Tribeca

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Kerry Bishé
as Sharon Fitzgerald
Edward Burns
as Gerry Fitzgerald
Heather Burns
as Erin Fitzgerald
Marsha Dietlein Bennett
as Dottie Fitzgerald
Caitlin FitzGerald
as Connie Fitzgerald
Anita Gillette
as Rosie Fitzgerald
Tom Guiry
as Cyril Fitzgerald
Ed Lauter
as Jim Fitzgerald
Michael McGlone
as Quinn Fitzgerald
Joyce Van Patten
as Mrs. McGowan
John Solo
as Johnny Esposito
Michele L. Harris
as Quinn's Assistant
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News & Interviews for The Fitzgerald Family Christmas

Critic Reviews for The Fitzgerald Family Christmas

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (16)

Resentments, pregnancies, cancer, spousal abuse and the struggle of a recovering alcoholic all come and go on cue.

Dec 27, 2012 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

These Fitzgeralds are loud, selfish and often maddening, but they're a loving group, and you wouldn't mind spending more time with them.

Dec 14, 2012 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Burns remains an agreeable presence throughout, and the emotions mostly ring true, even if the comic elements feel overly broad and individual episodes are hit-and-miss.

Dec 12, 2012 | Full Review…

A holiday-themed piece shot through with humor and heartbreak. No bull. And low on sappy.

Dec 10, 2012 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Too much of the film is taken up by creaky plot devices and one sibling vowing to track down and talk to another one to resolve a problem.

Dec 7, 2012 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Manages the considerable feat of interweaving the personal dramas of nine members of a boisterous Irish-American clan into a coherent mosaic with a streamlined narrative drive.

Dec 6, 2012 | Rating: 3.5/5

Audience Reviews for The Fitzgerald Family Christmas


In 1995 a young Edward Burns came onto the film scene with independent, family drama The Brothers McMullen and followed it up with equally impressive films like She's The One and Sidewalks of New York. Not everyone took notice but those that did began to compare Burns' writing and directing style to that of fellow New Yorker Woody Allen (without the neurosis). However, after his crime drama Ash Wednesday in 2002 people seemed to stop taking notice and Burns' directorial efforts disappeared from the limelight. He was still making films and even though I was a big admirer of his earlier stuff, even I had forgotten all about his more personal projects... until this one landed in my lap. The Fitzgerald's are a big Irish-American family that have no shortage of problems. There are seven siblings who all look out for one another but when their estranged father wants to return home for Christmas after walking out 20 years ago, the siblings (and their mother) all have to work through their feelings and resentment towards him. Those going into this expecting a happy family Yuletide event will certainly not get what they're expecting. As far as Christmas films go this one isn't filled with much cheer. In fact, the only reason it seems to be set around Christmas time is solely to stage an event where all the characters are forced to come together. It's a dysfunctional family drama that, once again, showcases Burns' astute eye and ear for natural characters and dialogue. With a plethora of different personalities onscreen, Burns makes it look effortless as he affords everyone the time and space to grow and develop their roles and crafts a impressive and sensitively handled ensemble piece. In his impressively handling of the narrative strands and personal problems of his characters, Burns never forces anything. He lets the flawed individuals speak for themselves and he's aided by a solid cast that bring just the right amount of humour and heartbreak to proceedings without ever resorting to sentimentality. Family dynamics has been the forte of Edward Burns' writing over the years and it would seem that he still has plenty to say on the matter. This may not be as solid as his debut but it's a perceptive piece nonetheless and Burns' continual independent filmmaking is deserving of a bigger audience. Like I say, it's not the holiday cheer you might expect but also not a depressant either. It finds itself neatly under the mistletoe with a welcome embrace and a reminder that forgiveness can make a huge difference. Mark Walker

Mark Walker
Mark Walker

Super Reviewer


An estranged father wants to spend his last Christmas with his family. The characters in this film aren't new and border on cliche, but Edward Burns can find a sliver of individuality in each type. Burns's films are not as good as Woody Allen's and don't deal with the same heavy, Bergman-influenced issues as Allen's, but they are vaguely reminiscent. The Fitzgerald Family Christmas is a light but unsentimental character study. The people are flawed but fun, light but not without significance, and separate but related personalities. They are, in short, just like the groups of people you know. Overall, Burns, with his $6000 movies, proves that good story-tellers don't need special effects; they just need special people.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Rather boring. Too bad, because I usually like Ed Burns movies. Not at all a typical holiday film.

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer


Jim Fitzgerald: I had no intention of breaking this family up! I have yet to see an Edward Burns film that I didn't enjoy and The Fitzgerald Family Christmas is no different. What I always enjoy about his films is the simplicity he brings to them. There's no action to speak of, there's no schmaltzy bullshit; it's all just real conversations between real people. In many ways, Burns is like a Woody Allen, making conversational movies set in New York. The only real difference is that most of Burns' movies are dramas and most of Allen's are comedies. This film follows the huge Fitzgerald family around Christmas time. Jerry is the leader of this family, the oldest of seven or eight siblings who ended up being like a father to the younger ones when their father left them high and dry as kids. Now they're all grown up and there's a lot of resentment towards their father. Most of it comes from the youngest three, who he was never a father too, and the mother who vowed to never let him set foot in her house again. He wants to now though. It could be his last Christmas as the doctors only are giving him four or five months to live because of his pancreatic cancer. There's a lot of drama in this film. Unexpected pregnancies, an absent father, relationships going south, spousal abuse, and alcohol and drug problems come into the mix at different points in the film. What astounded me throughout though is how these plot points were used. With so much drama surrounding one family, you would think the movie would give in and become overly dramatic, but Burns' script doesn't allow this to happen. All of it occurs as it would in any family. It's pretty mind-blowing that Burns was able to pull this thing off. All the actors, most of whom I've never heard of besides Burns and Connie Britton are all very good and believable. You'd think the movie would lose direction with so many different characters and situations, but it never does. It's also very different from the usual Christmas movie and doesn't play anything like what it's title suggests. It stays away from the sentimental moments and always feels very real. The Fitzgerald Family Christmas is definitely a film that is worth a look.

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

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