What You Need To Know:
The storyline in SURVIVING CHRISTMAS is funny, and the dialogue and situations are often hilarious. The movie has a great heart, helping people to understand the meaning of love, forgiveness and compassion. Some of the slapstick is over the top, but it is used to make moral points. There may be an audience that adopts SURVIVING CHRISTMAS as a quirky Christmas favorite. The broader audience, however, will be put off by the unnecessary negative elements. Had they been removed, SURVIVING CHRISTMAS would have been a hilarious story of changed hearts.
(B, C, Pa, LLL, V, S, A, M) Light moral worldview with light Christian elements about a group of dysfunctional people who learn how to live and forgive and love at Christmas time, with some nice references to Christmas and Charles Dickens's A CHRISTMAS CAROL as well as some pagan humor that is very obnoxious; 20 obscenities and 17 profanities, most of them “Oh my God!”; father hits man with shovel, man falls over railing, and other slapstick violence; boy looks at pornography on Internet constantly but finally throws his computer down the stairwell in disgust, mother poses for sexy pictures, and passionate kissing, but everything is suggested rather than shown; no exposed body parts but names of porn computer sites shown, and bits and pieces of salacious pictures shown; alcohol; and, man sells his family for Christmas and lying rebuked.
GENRE: Christmas Comedy
SURVIVING CHRISTMAS is a very funny movie with some nice references to Christmas and Charles Dickens’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL, but it is bogged down by too much foul language and a young boy who likes to look at porn on the computer – although the audience doesn’t see anything significant. It must be noted that the boy eventually trashes the computer and exclaims, “Some things can’t be un-seen.”
Ben Affleck plays Drew Lathem, a successful marketing executive who is alone at Christmas. As the story develops, the audience discovers that he has no family, because his father left home at Christmas when he was three or four, and his mother died when he was a teenager. Desperate to experience a real Christmas, he leaves his modern, spacious, beautiful apartment and goes back to his old home. When he gets there, he finds, of course, another family living there so he offers to rent the family to be his family for Christmas for $250,000 so he can experience Christmas.
Drew brings in a lawyer to make sure that they know that they need to really celebrate Christmas. Not only is this storyline funny, but the dialogue and situations are often hilarious. Furthermore, the movie has a great heart, helping people to understand the meaning of love, forgiveness, compassion, and other cardinal virtues.
Some of the slapstick in SURVIVING CHRISTMAS is over the top, especially when Mr. Valco hits Drew on the head with a shovel. Some of the humor is also over the top, as when Mrs. Valco poses for sexy pictures to reawaken her husband’s love, and when the little brother is constantly found looking at Internet pornography. All of this humor is used to make moral points, however.
The acting is terrific in SURVIVING CHRISTMAS, even by the normally bland Ben Affleck. James Gandolfini is a riot.
SURVIVING CHRISTMAS could have been a four-star movie with a little tweak here and there. It also could have been a ‘plus’ movie on the MOVIEGUIDE® acceptability scale by removing the foul language – much of which is expressions like, “Oh my God!” uttered way too frequently. There may even be an audience that adopts this movie as one of their quirky Christmas favorites. The broader audience, however, will be put off by the unnecessary anti-Christmas elements. Had these objectionable elements been removed, SURVIVING CHRISTMAS would have been a terrific film. As it is, it is a hilarious story of changed hearts with serious flaws, just like the dysfunctional family it portrays.
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