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Surviving Christmas

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Jan
Surviving Christmas

from Film Forum, 10/28/04

Mainstream critics are heaping derision on the head of Ben Affleck for starring in yet another big screen stinker. And indeed, it seems Affleck needs to hire a new agent and start being more selective. But Surviving Christmas has other big stars in it as well—including James Gandolfini (TV's The Sopranos) and Catherine O'Hara (A Mighty Wind)—and the filmmakers behind the project bear much of the responsibility for this family-film fiasco.

Christopher Lyon (Plugged In) says, "It's so bad, Santa has decided to replace lumps of coal with Surviving Christmas tickets in the stockings of especially bad children. You can feel the film reaching for a zaniness it never grasps, aspiring to become a Christmas Vacation or What About Bob? Instead, it's a vulgar, uninspired effort destined to be forgotten before Thanksgiving. Affleck is a big part of the problem."

Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) says, "Casting Ben Affleck was just a mistake. This role, which requires a goofy, childlike innocence, doesn't play to his strengths and he simply can't make the character work. Because his character is the focal point around which the movie revolves, there's little hope for it. The story itself fails and all that is left are a few comedic scenes that might be enjoyed on their own merit."

Annabelle Robertson (Crosswalk) says, "When it comes to Surviving Christmas, it was all I could do to survive the 92 minutes run-time before escaping from the theatre. I suggest you do the same, only long before it begins."

Phil Boatwright (CBN) writes, "There are some laughs, but they seem to be guilty pleasures. For example, as Andy Williams sings of the joy of Christmas over the opening titles, we see different people coping badly with the frustrations of the season, including an old lady making frowning gingerbread cookies, and then putting her head in the oven. It's a funny visual because of the shock value, but the reality that the suicide rate is staggering at Christmastime makes it a tasteless attempt. Tasteless attempt; that pretty much sums it up."