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Rated: PG-13 for crude violence, and adult language.
Genre: Comedy Romance
Directed By: Mike Mitchell
Running Time: 2:10
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 6/19/05
DVD Features:
Featurette - 1. "HBO First Look: Surviving Christmas"
Alternate Opening Sequence
Text/Photo Galleries:
Storyboard Gallery
If you like this, try: Christmas with the Kranks, Christmas Vacation, Pieces of April

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General Sideshow / Weta
(Surviving this movie, now there's the challenge)


Gandolfini is the only one with anything even resembling dignity in this movie. Gandolfini seemed to be the only character in this who walked away with dignity. He was pretty funny as a straight man and seemed like the only character in the movie I wouldn't want to run over with my car.

Ben Affleck needs to stop making movies. Before I was kinder and suggested he get a better agent, but now he needs to stop whole hog and go away. He needs to fire his agent, stop acting for five years, and then apologize for this crap. "Surviving Christmas" is the movie that makes me ponder that perhaps Ben Affleck was just some really lucky talentless bastard who was in the right place at the right time, the man who was blessed with a serendipity, the guy who supposedly co-wrote "Good Will Hunting", a scenario I imagine occurred the same way as hilariously depicted in "Family Guy".

Any charm, or charisma Affleck once bore within his smile and personality now manages to melt away in to pure idiocy with a movie that is as artificial as snow in a can. There is nothing genuine about this attempt at a dysfunctional holiday comedy, and nothing funny ever emerges from what this amalgam of mediocrity tries to force feed us. Are there such things as funny comedies anymore, I ask you? No, I don't think so. We just keep getting these absurd vehicles from these struggling actors who rather than making movies to make people laugh, are content in creating these mild, bland, and disgusting movies by the droves because it will keep them in the public eye.

Ben Affleck is guilty of such a notion in which he'll make any film just to stay in the public eye, well, maybe he'd be better off fading away in to obscurity and then re-emerging someday in an independent film for a supporting role that will bring him back. Is he capable of any
talent beyond sleepwalking through his lines and flashing his smile which is the only thing people need to bring them to his films? This is a man who is incapable of presenting any sense of versatility and this is a perfect example of just that. With his mock vow never to do another action film, I think he should vow never to do another comedy as well. Affleck is
over the top here; you can see it five minutes in to this with his wacky dialogue and almost high-pitched attempted hilarious tone of voice that just becomes shrill and painful.

He plays an executive who misses old fashioned Christmas' and basically returns to his old home to make amends. But, instead he pays off a disgruntled dysfunctional family to pretend to be his family. What the writers make the brutal mistake of committing, is creating a lead character that we care nothing about. We don't feel bad for this character, he's an utter dumb ass, he presents no redeeming aspects at the beginning or the end of the film, nor does he present a semblance, or connotation of humanity that will allow us to warm up to him, because all Affleck is doing is acting, not getting in to character, he's just giving his lines. Why should we like this guy? The makers never give us a reason.

If you think the story is far-fetched, buckle up because it only becomes even more implausible. But, it was never difficult for me to buy that this family would sell themselves out and humiliate themselves for a lot of money, I mean people do it all the time on reality shows, except a lot worse, and that is the only commentary this film manages to touch upon, though I highly doubt this was intentional. But what is ridiculous is Affleck's character never seems remorseful about it, he just forces himself on to them and makes them act like a family, thus revealing something about themselves, something incredibly vapid, because even that is never explored. This is supposed to be a comedy--right? That is a question I asked myself again and again because I never laughed, I just cringed 99 percent of the time with the groan inducing dialogue, ridiculous situations, and the mean-spirited humor. Since when is violence considered funny? There are also the brash misunderstandings for the sake of comedy, but there's no comedy, just an imitation of a television sitcom heightened by a decent cast. Ultimately every joke, line, situation, and message falls flat making this an incredibly miserable holiday film.

With a ridiculous two hour mark, this is quite possibly one of the worst holiday movies with an artificial story and lack of true sentiment and humanity within its suspiciously secular holiday environment. Meanwhile the comedy aspect never came in to play because not once did I ever find myself laughing; it's an awful mean-spirited film.



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