Saturday, 19 September 2020
Surviving Christmas
Thursday, 28 October 2004 16:50

I survived "Surviving Christmas"

Well, the leaves have not all dropped, the snow hasn't flown, and Halloween candy still abounds. But in hopes of opening our wallets to some holiday cheer, Christmas movies have already hit the box office. Directed by Mike Mitchel ("Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo"), Dreamworks' new flick "Surviving Christmas" opened ridiculously early for the season on October 22nd.

Drew Latham (Ben Affleck), a big shot millionaire, finds himself alone at Christmas when his girlfriend leaves him to spend time with her family. Faced with lonliness, he consults a psyciatrist who advises him to return to a happy place from his childhood. When he arrives at the home he grew up in, he hires the family living there to help him have an old fashioned Christmas. Things don't go especially well for Drew and he slowly realizes that all the money he has won't be enough to make this a "perfect family".

One thing I will say about this movie is that with one exeption, the casting is great. What is not to love about Catherine O'Hara (SCTV) playing opposite James Gandolfini of "The Sopranos" as a dispassioned Mom and Dad. Christina Applegate is also very enjoyable as a wickedly sharp tongued sister. Josh Zuckerman (formerly a young Dr. Evil in "Austin Powers 3") always does a great job of stealing of his scenes. But I did say there was one exeption, and unfortunately that is the films star.

Before I am attacked by hundreds of angry, screaming Ben Affleck fans let me just say this. I normally don't have a problem with Ben or his movies. I am in no way biased about Ben. Perhaps he was having an off month during filming. Maybe some old girlfriend (not naming names) married some other guy, and he was a little preoccupied. I don't know what happened. But he was really awful in this movie! His over-the-top, high pitched ravings gave me the feeling that maybe he needed to ease up on the happy-pills.

Though the film does get off to a horrific start, the script and the laughs progressively gain steam. But maybe "laughs" is too strong a word. As far as family viewing goes, some of the running jokes involve internet pornography and incest. Pretty hefty subjects for a PG rating, but they are handled subtly.

When I first heard about this movie I did not have very high expectations. It is probably for that reason that I was not overly dissapointed. I managed to get a few laughs out of it, and perhaps the stirrings of that warm-and-fuzzy holiday feeling. Until this one comes out on home video though, I would opt for a more fulfilling holiday film.

Here are some suggestions to help bring out your inner Santa.
"A Christmas Story", "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" & "ELF" - All available on DVD.