Surviving Christmas (2004)

Back in 2004, Ben Affleck’s star was starting to wane, and movies like Surviving Christmas are one of the most glaring reasons why.  It might have the world record for shortest time between theatrical release and home release, were it not for Steven Soderbergh’s weird experiments.  Released in theatres October 2004, it came out on DVD two months later after failing horribly at the box office.  It was directed by Shrek 4‘s Mike Mitchell (and looking at his filmography, it’s almost uniformly terrible except for a bunch of “Greg the Bunny” episodes, but I may be biased), and “written” by four people.  Written is in quotation marks because apparently, there was never a finalized script and most of the shit that’s onscreen is improvised.

Improvising with BFleck, James Gandolfini and Christina Applegate is a lot different than when Catherine O’Hara improvises with the Christopher Guest troop though.  Actually, Applegate is one of the more decent performers in the movie, apparently one of the only sane characters in the whole story.  Basically, the story goes like this: Drew Latham (BFleck) is a rich asshole who doesn’t enjoy spending time with his family or something, so on the advice of his ex-girlfriend’s (Jennifer Morrison) – who isn’t really his ex – therapist (Stephen Root), he goes back to his childhood home to burn a list of grievances he has with his family.  Then he pays the family that currently lives there (O’Hara, Gandolfini, Josh Zuckerman) to pretend to be his family to make him feel better for the holidays.  It’s pretty much insane, and not in an entertaining way.

Then other things happen!  I have no idea who would find this movie funny, unless you’re approaching it from a car crash perspective, then it’s probably hilarious.  I might enjoy watching it whilst getting hammered and commentating on it MST3K-style.  That’s a different audience though, and there are much better dysfunctional family Christmas movies than this one.  Seriously, The Ref might be my favourite Christmas movie of all time (I’m thinking about doing a list) and it is balls to the wall dysfunctional but with a point and heart and I don’t know where Surviving Christmas went wrong (everywhere), but do not subject yourself to it at Christmas or any other time of the year.

It’s like getting a present from your crazy aunt who still thinks you’re into Transformers or Hot Wheels or that you like cars as anything more than a mode of transportation.  It’s the thought that counts, sure, but if the thought is crazy, do you really want someone thinking about it?

1 / 5

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About SkoochXC
Long-time blogger, Canadian, cine-snark-aphile, Tweeter and generally lonely hearted guy.

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