Surviving Christmas (2004) Ben Affleck, James Gandolfini, Christina Applegate, Catherine O'Hara, Josh Zuckerman Movie Review

Surviving Christmas (2004)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Ben Affleck and Christina Applegate in Surviving Christmas (2004)

Affleck's Going Home for Christmas

I suppose when it comes down to it I like to watch traditional Christmas movies, those which deliver that warm fuzzy feeling and so when I watch a Christmas movie which tries to do things a bit differently I don't always enjoy them as much. It is why "Surviving Christmas" for the most failed to float my Christmas boat despite eventually coming good with a heart warming ending. Ironically there is plenty which is good about it, the whole premise which sees a rich advertising exec not wanting to spend Christmas alone whilst looking to have a bit of a nostalgic childhood Christmas experience is amusing. But unfortunately because the first half of "Surviving Christmas" is almost all about destroying Christmas it just didn't do it for me.

Drew Latham (Ben Affleck - Jersey Girl) is rich, he is a top advertising exec with a swanky home and can have almost anything he desires, except it looks like he is going to be alone for Christmas. Desperate he drives to the home he grew up in and offers the Valco family who now live there a small fortune if they let him spend Christmas with them and make it feel like a proper family Christmas, like the one he use to know. Unfortunately in his desperate need to have things exactly how he imagines he causes plenty of issues for the Valco's who's marriage is already on the rocks and when their daughter Alicia (Christina Applegate - Anchorman) returns home not only does it ruin his plans but she seems to be the only sane one who can see how stupid it all is.

Bill Macy and Josh Zuckerman in Surviving Christmas (2004)

You can split "Surviving Christmas" into two halves with the first half being all about the over the top comedy of Drew spending Christmas with the Valco's and because of a contract they sign forcing them to be in the Christmas spirit. So we get jokes about Tom Valco having to wear a Santa's hat and sing Christmas songs whilst we also get a very physical snowball fight. But unfortunately it is all too forced and over the top as is what follows when Drew discovers that Tom and Christine are on the verge of splitting up and so tries to help them leading to the cheesiest of scenes with a fashion shoots for Christine.

The thing is that whilst the first half of "Surviving Christmas" is so forced it's not funny it eventually tries to become heart warming when first we get the less than shocking romance as Drew and Alicia begin to fall for each other and then we learn the truth about Drew and Christmas. The sad thing is that whilst it does a nice job of turning things around to make "Surviving Christmas" a little heart-warming because the first half is so full on and over the top it feels out of place. Now some may say this is clever because this is a twist on the story of "Scrooge" but it is such an extreme twist on the traditional tale that it is barely recognizable.

As for the acting well "Surviving Christmas" has a very good cast and the likes of James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hara, Christina Applegate and Josh Zuckerman are all well cast as the Valco family. But then we have Ben Affleck as Drew and whilst Affleck has the look of a rich advertising exec the forced humour of the first half makes it too uncomfortable. Not only is the humour over the top but so is Affleck's delivery of it and it makes scene after scene border on the excruciating rather than the amusing.

What this all boils down to is that "Surviving Christmas" failed to do it for me and I just found it all too forced. There is no doubt that some will find the forced humour of Drew wrecking Christmas to be funny but for those who prefer their Christmas movies to be more traditional and heart warming it will be a bit of a slog.

Tags: Christmas Movies