Surviving Christmas

Directed by: Mike Mitchell Screenplay by: Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont Produced by: Betty Thomas and Jenno Topping Cast: Ben Affleck, James Gandolfini, Christina Applegate and Catherine O'Hara



Surviving Christmas is like the pair of socks that you get on Christmas day when you were expecting something much better. A pair of socks is a lousy present and thatís exactly what this film is.

As Christmas day draws closer there are a host of Christmas and family orientated films on offer for your viewing pleasure. The majority of these focus on the positive aspects of the festive season, namely family and togetherness, but often neglect the fact that Christmas is a pretty miserable time for a large number of people. Surviving Christmas takes its inspiration from these people while trying to present an enjoyable Christmas movie for all.

Drew Latham (Ben Affleck) is an eccentric but successful businessman who offers to pay a suburban family a large sum of money if they agree to pretend to be his family over the Christmas period. Drew has a fear of being alone during Christmas you see, and his unexpected arrival disrupts every member of the not-so-perfect Valco family.

Surviving Christmas is a mediocre film that asks you to spend Christmas with a dysfunctional family and their newly adopted son. An intriguing concept in principle, but one that is exploited very badly and which has already been covered in better films before it. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation is top of this list. And, compared to the Griswalds, the Valco family is simply quite dull.

One of the most annoying aspects of the film is Drew Lathamís transition from apparently sane businessman into crazy Christmas nut. At the opening of the film Ben Affleckís character is quite normal and his only problem is trying to find someone to spend Christmas with. As you know, these attempts are fruitless. A few scenes later however, his character undergoes a radical change and comes across as a man possessed. This change is sudden and unmotivated.

There is no buildup to or hint that he will go crazy, he just does. It doesnít work because the character we thought we were watching changes completely and his transformation becomes a jarring sticking point in the film.

This film sinks Ben Affleckís career to new depths. He really needs to approach his future projects more carefully Ė thatís if he gets any other projects after this. Itís not that he isnít trying; itís just that the material he has to work with isnít very good. It would appear that his big blockbuster film days are almost over and the devolution to straight-to-video star has begun.

And, if you donít believe me, Surviving Christmas has one of the shortest periods of time between its theatrical release and its home video release in the history of Hollywood (coming in at just over two months). Affleck is practically a straight-to-video star moonlighting as an A-list actor.

Surviving Christmas should be avoided at all costs. (Rather go and watch The Incredibles again.) Itíll waste your time, your money and it will definitely destroy any Christmas sprit youíre still able to muster.


Christo Oberholzer



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Keep away at all costs - you have been warned! Don't waste your time 'cos this dud ain't worth your hard-earned dinero.
Not really worth your time unless you find yourself getting dragged to see it, in which case at least the company will be good.
Nothing to write home about, although it's pretty pleasant viewing. This is one to see and to enjoy (and probably forget about afterwards).
Highly recommended viewing, this one.
Not often that you find a four-star gem, so try really, really hard not to miss this film.
See this film and see it now, no matter what you have to do. We mean it - drop everything and go! (You still here? Go!)