Published Oct 01, 2004From the director of Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo comes a premature Christmas tale that is terribly unfunny (thereby making it fail as a charming holiday comedy) and too brash and dysfunctional to be sappy and warm-hearted. And by lifting the similar plot of last year's Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, as well as dozens of cinematic clichés, this movie is also completely unoriginal.
Drew Latham (Ben Affleck) seems to have it all after somehow managing to accumulate millions of dollars as a cocky advertising superstar who lives in a gigantic loft and has a stunning girlfriend, Missy (Jennifer Morrison). Everything seems to be perfect for Drew, but when he asks Missy to spend Christmas day with him in Fiji rather than with her family, she leaves him in fear that he's not ready to introduce her to his parents, when in fact Drew has no mother, father or a family at all. He just failed to tell her this. Drew then flips out and chases Missy's psychiatrist around an airport in search of advice and finally is told to go to a childhood place, write his problems on a piece of paper and burn it. So Drew shows up at the house he grew up in, lights a piece of paper on the front lawn and, mistaken for a pyromaniac, is smacked in the back of the head with a shovel by a bearded James Gandolfini. Let the wackiness begin.
Drew gets the brilliant idea of paying the current tenants of his childhood home a quarter-of-a-million dollars to adopt him for a few days so he can recapture his youth and experience the Christmas he never had when he was a child. Tom (Gandolfini), along with his wife Christine (Catherine O'Hara) and their son Brian are sceptical of a complete stranger living in their house and eating the last of their salami, but of course they slowly warm up to him and things seem to be sailing smoothly along. Until, of course, their gorgeous daughter Alicia (Christina Applegate) shows up at the door and takes an immediate disliking to Drew. Will the two ever work out their differences? Is it possible that Alicia and Drew might have what it takes to fall in love after a 30-second toboggan ride?
Surviving Christmas will not be the film that saves Ben Affleck's struggling acting career. The obnoxious attitude of Drew makes him an dislikeable character that we're supposed to warm up to, but he just comes across as a borderline lunatic that throws money at all of his problems. Christina Applegate and Catherine O'Hara are both talented comedic actresses that were somehow roped into a terrible script and simply have to make the most of it, thankfully giving us some of the better moments in Surviving Christmas. However, there really aren't many at all amongst the incest jokes. (Dreamworks/Universal)