The Fitzgerald Family Christmas - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Fitzgerald Family Christmas Reviews

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Super Reviewer
December 11, 2016
With absolutely nobody famous this Netlix movie has a more interesting family dynamic and one that is infinitely more relatable than those in major Hollywood Christmas movies. I found that the characters were also less two dimensional too. A real surprise for such a low brow movie.
July 30, 2016
So. Boring. And flat. And Connie Britton was given the absolute most 2-D role.
½ January 12, 2016
There is a sex scene in the beginning. This movie is not for kids under 17 and should be rated R.
Super Reviewer
½ December 23, 2015
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
December 5, 2015
Slow and a bit boring. The acting was fine, but just not quite enough movement for me
January 30, 2015
was a very cute movie. very good family movie. i like connie britton she did a good job in this film..
December 22, 2014
this will be the kind of christmas movie that would make you feel sad,because there's so much truth in it,when you have a big family,ironically everyone will care for themselves,instead of helping each other out...oh well,that's life.
December 20, 2014
Disappointing, not much of a holiday movie as it was dull & slow moving family affair.
December 12, 2014
Lame story bad acting
December 8, 2014
A good Christmas movie. If you like Edward Burns ( the Brothers McMullen), you will not be disappointed with this movie. Catholic themes of forgiveness with beautifully played Advent songs in the background. Strong recommend at Christmas.
Super Reviewer
½ April 20, 2014
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.
Super Reviewer
½ December 25, 2013
When I checked what was left out for me to watch, this was the ONLY movie I had left last night... and reading the title didn't give me much hope that this would be anything more than some sweet "uplifting" holiday melodrama - which I wasn't in a mood for. I am glad I was mistaken, and I felt like an idiot that I never noticed that I had in possession an Edward Burns' movie! This writer, director and star goes back to this Irish-Catholic roots and the 1995 debut film that put him on the map, The Brothers McMullen. Burns knows his way around the business of family playing Gerry Fitzgerald, the eldest of seven children parented by Josie (in a lifetime performance of Anita Gillette), a single mom since her husband, Big Jim (Ed Lauter), walked out on them 20 years ago.

It was threading on an edge to become a Hallmark entertainment piece, but Burns and a bracingly fine cast play it for real, and that feel of reality is never allowing the film to slip to the cheap and cheese category. He wisely brings in Connie Britton, as his new romance and their scenes together have an irresistible romantic vibrancy.

Even with all the problems of the family, there is a perfect amount of grit and comic grace notes, but sometimes I felt overwhelmed with so many characters introduced at once ... brother Quinn (Michael McGlone) wants to propose to younger girlfriend (Daniella Pineda); sister Sharon (Kerry Bishe) hooks up with a father-figure (Noah Emmerich); sister Dottie (Marsha Dietlein Bennett) dumps her husband for a hottie gardener, and the next sister Connie (Caitlin Fitzgerald) is pregnant by an abusive boyfriend while the youngest brother Cyril (Tom Guiry) is just out of rehab; sister Erin (Heather Burns), has married up and looks down on her family, except for daddy... with all these it felt like an Russian classic not a modern Irish-American piece. It was a good experience, though.
Super Reviewer
December 24, 2013
Rather boring. Too bad, because I usually like Ed Burns movies. Not at all a typical holiday film.
December 24, 2013
Good Christmas drama, decent acting and story but that's all...
December 15, 2013
Resentments, pregnancies, cancer, spousal abuse and the struggle of a recovering alcoholic all come and go on cue. this is my X-mas movie this year
Super Reviewer
½ December 15, 2013
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.
December 15, 2013
This is exactly the classic movie that Edward Burns does. If you like them, it is fine. I do like them, but it is true that not much new has been seen since The McMullen Brothers.
½ December 15, 2013
Pleasant holiday-treat surprise. Streaming on Netflix!
½ December 8, 2013
Love Ed Burns movies. Love family Christmas movies. Two for one.
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