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Surviving Christmas (2004)

Share the warmth

Rating: 3/10

Running Time: 91 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12a

Anyone who’s ever seen Gigli already knows Ben Affleck is no stranger to turkeys. He and erstwhile other half J-Lo gobble-gobbled their way to the top of the flops with the 2003 all-time stinker – and now His Ben-ness is at it again, only this time he’s going it alone, and the turkey is of the Christmas variety. Get pre-heating that oven now, folks – and get ready to want to put your head inside.

The cuboid-faced dud-merchant plays Drew Latham, a gormless self-obsessive who we’re somehow supposed to believe is so good at his job as an advertising exec that it’s made him a multi-millionaire. The part that’s much easier to buy into is that nobody likes him very much so, when Chrimbo comes about, he’s all on his lonesome. Unable to work out that the best way to remedy this situation would be to stop acting the moron, he decides instead to get his chequebook out and buy himself the yuletide company of a bewildered family (among them James Gandolfini as Dad, Catherine O’Hara as Mom, Josh Zuckerman as Little Bro, and Christina Applegate as the sister you just know is destined for some squirm-worthy interludes with her newfound sibling).

There’s just so much wrong with this film that I struggle to know where to begin. For one thing, most of the story just doesn’t make sense. Sure, the $250,000 dangled in front of the family would be a huge temptation, but are we really supposed to just accept the fact that they never question how on earth their house-guest can afford it? Then there’s the acting. Quite simply, Affleck’s performance is blindingly bad. It’s obvious that the guy desperately seeks acceptance as a credible comedy performer, but every aspect of the job just deserts him at every turn. Timing? Delivery? Self-deprecation? He has none of them.

What’s more, the fleeting references to not-for-the-kiddies subject matter may seem insignificant, but for a festive flick like this one they’re the final nail in the coffin. It means the film has earned itself a 12A certificate, with the result that its one slight hope of an audience – families – won’t be able to see it. Thankfully, they won’t be missing much.

It's Got: An overall premise suspiciously similar to ‘Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star’.

It Needs: To make it a tad less obvious it’s deliberately keeping the story of Drew’s real family for the schmaltzy bit at the end.


Turkey’s come early this year!