Length: 1 hr 31 Age: 12 About: A wealthy executive, Drew Latham (Ben Affleck) has no close relationships and becomes nostalgic for his childhood home as Christmas approaches. When he visits the house and finds another family living there, he offers the residents, Tom Valco (James Gandolfini) and his wife, Christine (Catherine O’Hara), a large sum of money to pretend they are his parents. Soon Drew tests the couple’s patience, and, when their daughter, Alicia (Christina Applegate), arrives, things get increasingly tense.
The Naughty List
Little heavy on the incest and porn jokes. Which is funny, for the first one or five. For such an uplifting film, it just seems unnecessary to lay it on so thick. Either it needs to be toned down, or diversely amped up in order to earn a 15 rating.
Thank god Jennifer Morrison realised these dipstick princess were not how she wanted to spend her acting career and landed two plump roles on prime time TV. She’s just not believable as the pampered Legally Blonde wannabe and is nothing more than fingernails on a blackboard the entire time she’s on screen.
The Nice List
James Gandolfini is a grumpy delight in this comedy. He’s the perfect chalk to Ben Affleck’s cheese. He’s downright perfect and, in all honesty, I’d happily have had more of him in the film.
Catherine O’Hara is the Queen of Christmas. I couldn’t think of anyone better in the role of the mother. She is able to roll with the unusual scenario and sass everyone while doing so.
The plot has a heart underneath its strangeness. At the root of the plot is family and while playing pretend, something real came home. Working with what could perhaps be considered a clique, Surviving Christmas manages to make something new and charming. Even with Ben Affleck circa twat in the lead.
Its really funny and the chuckles don’t come from the ruder portions of the film.
Checking it Twice
I’m still not sold on Ben Affleck in the lead. He works well with the cast and there’s a nice chemistry with Christina Applegate, however I want to punch him in the face most of the time he’s on the screen. I think I would have enjoyed it better had someone like Adam Sandler or Jason Bateman. That said, Affleck handles the heartfelt reveal really well and does show potential that’ll recognised fully in 2012 with an Oscar nod for his role in Argo.
It’s a fun film that is a little flawed, but will always be charming enough to stay on the festive watch list.