Friday, December 23, 2016

Movie Review: "Surviving Christmas" (2004)

Director: Mike Mitchell
Year: 2004
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

A wealthy ad executive who is going to be alone for Christmas hires the people who live in his childhood home to pretend be his family for the holidays. 

"Surviving Christmas" is directed by Mike Mitchell, who has directed several live action films such as "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" and "Sky High," and recently has switched his focus to animated movies, such as the box office hit "Trolls." This movie stars Ben Affleck as wealthy advertising executive Drew Latham, who after a fight with his girlfriend Missy, played by Jennifer Morrison, is now going to be alone on Christmas. With nowhere left to go, Drew returns to his childhood home and pays the Valco family, who are now living there, $250,000 to pretend to be his family for Christmas. While Drew tries to create his perfect family holiday the Valco clan are doing their very best to survive the tornado Drew has inflicted upon them in an attempt to tolerate his many yuletide demands.

This is another one of those bullshit Hollywood movies where everything that goes on could have been solved with one simple conversation. All Drew had to do was tell his girlfriend why he doesn't see his family on Christmas, and everything would have been over. There would be no need for such an insipid mess of a movie. Lord knows we knew from the first 5 second of the film why Drew spends his Christmases alone, which means we can see the big reveal that's coming from 800 miles away. There is no charm in this movie, no wit, and hardly anything about it is funny. We maybe laughed once or twice throughout the whole thing, and even those felt like pity laughs at the expense of a deranged millionaire who is so out of touch with reality that he feels like he can throw money around to get his way...sound familiar?

The whole concept of "Surviving Christmas" is actually quite depressing. Drew is so lonely and has so few real friends that he actually has to pay a family a quarter of a million dollars to be willing to spend time with him. He constantly flaunts his wealth unabashedly and uses it to attempt to capture the Norman Rockwell-esque middle American Christmas he feels he has missed out on in the past. He wants to go buy a tree, sing Christmas Carols, have his faux-dad wear a Santa hat, and go tobogganing, but his fake family fights it every step of the way, even though they are getting paid. He is allowed to do what he does because he is rich, and the family only tolerates him because they want his money. Without bucks, this movie would cease to exist.

"Surviving Christmas" is the antithesis of what Christmas is all about. Even when a tacked-on ending is added to give it a bit of heart, the contrived, expected nature of it all, the forced sentiment added to the story makes us even more mad. You can't take horrible people doing horrible things, throw on a stupid ending and just expect the audience to be in the Christmas spirit instantly. If you want to get in the spirit of the holiday, steer clear and avoid this one. This movie only serves as a reminder of why people used to hate Ben Affleck.

My Rating: 3/10
BigJ's Rating: 3/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 7%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!
Last Christmas, we were watching: "Happy Christmas"

Two Christmases ago, we were watching: "White Christmas"

Three Christmases ago, we were watching: "A Christmas Story"

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