Surviving Christmas

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Surviving Christmas
Review (5.5/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

In Surviving Christmas, Ben Affleck plays a young, annoying dude with way too much money. It's Christmas, and Drew Latham is alone and depressed, so he returns to his childhood home to recapture the holiday spirit. Unfortunately for Drew, his old house is now occupied by the dysfunctional Valco family, which includes Tony Soprano's twin brother Tom (James Gandolfini), the rather worn-out looking mother Christine (Catherine O'Hara), the porn-addicted son Brian (Josh Zuckerman) and the daughter Alicia (Christina Applegate), who is not impressed by Drew's abundance of money. The family is unwilling to welcome Drew into their house until he offers Tom $250,000 to have the Valcos act as Drew's family during the holidays. Tom accepts. Hilarity is supposed to ensue. Did I mention Drew is very annoying?

I have to admit, Surviving Christmas has a handful of laughs. But it fails more than not. It goes for many, many laughs but Affleck's character is too annoying and Gandolfini's is too much like Tony Soprano and there are just too many unfunny moments for me to recommend this movie.

I know this movie is going to be an opportunity for the millions of Affleck haters out there to shove a boot up his ass but he actually wasn't too bad in the movie. He did play the role pretty well. The guy does have a touch of comedic timing. If anything, James Gandolfini once again proved himself to be rather one dimensional. Don't get me wrong, I love him in The Sopranos. But I never saw anything more than a bearded, middle-class Tony Soprano on the screen. Hell, in his opening scene in the movie, he is eating pasta and making the exact same eating noises as Soprano.

As for the rest of the cast? Nobody really stood out. I got a good laugh out of "Doo Dah", Affleck's stand-in grandfather. Soprano kept calling him "Doo Doo", which made me chuckle everytime. Yes, folks, that's my sense of humour - very immature. But overall, this movie had too many missed laughs, a heartfelt ending that's not very heartfelt at all and a very strange twist in the story involving Affleck's ex-girlfriend's parents and a supposed affair that was a complete waste of screen time.

Surviving Christmas might be worth checking out on video somewhere down the road, but it might not be worth running out to the theatre to see. Especially if you are looking to get into that Christmas spirit that Drew is longing to find. And if you do decide to watch the video at some point, make sure you have a few beers beforehand. It'll help.

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