A Film Review By Jason L. King
|Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual content, language and a brief drug reference
Starring:Ben Affleck, James Gandolfini, Christina Applegate
Directed By:Mike Mitchell
Well folks its October 22nd, 2004 (or at least it was on the day I wrote this review) and do you know what that means? It’s Christmas time again! Or at least it is time to start thinking about Christmas. Each year it seems as though Christmas comes a little earlier each and every year. Traditionally in Hollywood the Christmas movies come out in November, this year Dreamworks decided to bring us a hint of Christmas cheer before the kids were even able to go trick or treating.
Ben Affleck plays Drew Latham a very successful but very lonely man who doesn’t want to spend Christmas alone. With no family to spend Christmas with he decides to rent a family for the holidays. What Drew learns is that his plan doesn’t go quite as he had planned and he learns that you can’t buy the Christmas or the family of your dreams.
This film is a perfect example of the type of stuff only a Hollywood computer could crank out. The plot is ridiculous and annoying at times, it’s formulaic and silly from start to finish. This flick was so poorly written at one point I wondered why it was made into a movie after all. I was mildly amused at best when it came to a script. After watching this film, I started to realize the truth behind the Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez break up. It wasn’t the failure of Gigli that pushed them apart, or the pressures of being a celebrity couple. It was because Affleck had to have been crazy. After all why would he sign on to a film like this and take up a role that was meant for someone like Ben Stiller instead. (After all Ben Stiller has had a history of “crap” films this last year or so)
Ben Affleck tries to find his humorous side in this flick and fails miserably. Affleck isn’t funny, and somehow only his more annoying qualities stand out in this film. I do believe that Ben Affleck could have some comedic talent, but I have never seen a man stoop so low to get a laugh from an audience as Affleck did in this film. I take that back; I did watch David Spade in Dickie Roberts. But that’s beside the point. The point is this film is a waste of Affleck. Costarring with Affleck is James Gandolfini, who everyone knows as HBO’s Tony Soprano. If you have ever watched Gandolfini in any movie you’ve pretty much seen his performance here. Once again Gandolfini plays the blue-collar character and in this case isn’t really given a chance to be really entertaining. Rumors have it that the film started production without a finished script, and that James Gandolfini refused to come out of his trailer for a couple of days because of some disagreements. This doesn’t surprise me. The film felt like it lacked direction, lacked character and lacked a point.
To be truthful, just like I don’t want to think about Christmas in October, I don’t want to think about Surviving Christmas anymore. It’s not a horrible film, and not deserving of being on everyone’s worst films of the year lists. Simply put Surviving Christmas is mediocre crap. You can’t blame the actors, blame the company that greenlighted this film. It just didn’t work. Surviving Christmas is a Holiday film that is a wannabe “Tim Allen” Christmas flick, which misses the mark.
In the end, watching Surviving Christmas is a lot like opening a Christmas present from your senile old great aunt that you have never met; You aren’t really sure what you’re getting yourself in to, but you are pretty sure you aren’t going to like it