The Fitzgerald Family Christmas (2012)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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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
Nick Sandow
as Corey
Joyce Van Patten
as Mrs. McGowan
John Solo
as Johnny Esposito
Michele L. Harris
as Quinn's Assistant
Kevin Kash
as Brian
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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.

Full Review… | December 26, 2012
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | December 14, 2012
Miami Herald
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | December 12, 2012
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | December 10, 2012
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | December 6, 2012
New York Post
Top Critic

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.

December 6, 2012
New York Times
Top Critic

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

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