Rated PG-13 for sexual content, language and a brief drug reference.
Directed By: Mike Mitchell
Written By: Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont
Staring: Ben Affleck, James Gandolfini, Christina Applegate, Catherine O’Hara, Josh Zuckerman, Bill Macy, Udo Kier, Jennifer Morrison, and David Selby
Folks, my firm’s done a tremendous amount of marketing research and we’ve discovered two critical things, one; most Americans feel that Christmas is a time for family. Two; most Americans feel that in order to stand being around their family, for even one or two days, they need to swill as much alcohol as humanly possible. -Drew
Is there some requirement for newer Christmas films to be awful movies that defecate all over the spirit of Christmas? Surviving Christmas was almost as bad as Christmas With The Cranks and right on par with Fred Claus. I’m starting to understand the sentiment of “Elf” and see it as one of the few successes of Christmas films over the last decade. Nowadays it’s easy enough to see BenAffleck in the title of a film and realize there is a huge percentile that the movie is going to blow goats.
An eccentric millionaire pays a family a quarter of a million dollars to fulfill his desires to have Christmas with a typical modern American family. Since it is a typical American family Drew discovers in spite of their half hearted attempts to make his Christmas merry, below the picture of suburbia bliss is a family full of issues. All the family needed was a grocery bag and some roses and the concept would have been outright replicated. The dysfunction under each of the charactersnormalcy’s begin to mesh and collide.
I used to be on team Affleck. After Chasing Amy and Good Will Hunting I didn’t think he had Matt Damon talent, but he certainly was a charmer, and I was convinced he could have a stellar career as an important character or supporting actor. Instead he’s been one of the biggesttrain-wrecks in the movie business, and it’s sad because he is a really charming guy. In Surviving Christmas there was nothing charming or redeeming about his performance or his spoiled and obnoxious character.
The problem outside the obvious incompetence of Affleck to carry a film was the plot itself. By the time we find out why this character has all these hang ups it was so anti-climatic, not to mention lacking any genuine feeling, I found myself hoping for thehorrifically funny tale Phoebe Cates gives in Gremlins about her Dad, Santa, and the chimney. Now THAT’S a reason for giving Christmas the ole Bah Humbug. The stars of the story aren’t likable and neither is this movie.
Surviving Christmas lacked any passion or inspiration. It relied on a gimmick to tell a story that was transparent and heartless. Without any likable characters to latch onto, an insulting plot, and a film that wasn’t even funny, there wasn’t a single reason I could think of to watch this movie again. Ever. Even with the beauty and charisma of Christina Applegate, there was not enough to turn any portion of this Christmas Yuletide into inspirational and important. Surviving Christmas will not survive the years to come.