Reviewer's Rating 1 out of 5   User Rating 1 out of 5
Surviving Christmas (2004)
12aContains moderate sex references

Ben Affleck must have been cock-eyed drunk - and not on yuletide spirit - when he signed up for Mike Mitchell's Surviving Christmas. Sadly he doesn't emerge from this car wreck of a comedy unscathed, flapping around like a demented Angel Gabriel whose mommy didn't love him enough. All that's vaguely funny or Christmassy about this are the sweaty beads of desperation which string together like fairy-lights across Affleck's forehead as he hammers out one lame gag after another.

Although he's fabulously rich, Drew (Affleck) senses a void in his life as Christmas draws near and revisits his childhood home, where new owner Tom Valco (James Gandolfini) shows him the back end of a shovel. However, Tom quickly changes his tune when Drew offers him $250,000 in return for letting him spend the holidays as part of the family.

"THIS WILL CAUSE SEVERE INDIGESTION"

Drew's newly adopted 'mom' (Catherine O'Hara) is less than happy with the arrangement, likewise 'brother' Brian (Josh Zuckerman) and 'sister' Alicia (Christina Applegate) - especially when he turns psychotic and forces them into wearing tacky knitwear, singing carols and sledding down treacherous mountain peaks. Predictably though, Alicia's displeasure soon gives way to warm and fuzzy feelings at which point Drew's ex-girlfriend (Jennifer Morrison) turns up.

Even an audience of department store Santas would be hard-pressed to raise a chuckle at any of the stale set-ups employed here. Lazy and contrived, the script doesn't even hint as to why Drew suddenly becomes unhinged, so his childish enactments just feel weird and creepy. Indeed, the snowman on the Valco's front lawn exudes more warmth and charisma than Affleck, whose incessant overacting renders him completely insufferable. Not surprisingly, his parting message of 'family togetherness' proves difficult to swallow. Be warned: this half-baked Christmas turkey will cause severe indigestion.

End Credits

Director: Mike Mitchell

Writer: Joshua Sternin, Jeffrey Ventimilia, Harry Elfont, Deborah Kaplan

Stars: Ben Affleck, James Gandolfini, Christina Applegate, Catherine O'Hara, Josh Zuckerman

Genre: Comedy, Family

Length: 91 minutes

Cinema: 03 December 2004

Country: USA

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