Awfully Good: Surviving Christmas

Ben Affleck must really hate the holidays. How else do you explain both REINDEER GAMES and SURVIVING CHRISTMAS?

Surviving Christmas (2004)

Director: Mike Mitchell
Stars:Ben Affleck, James Gandolfini, Christina Applegate

Is there a plot?

Ben Affleck has to pay people to spend time with him.

What's the damage?

SURVIVING CHRISTMAS is clearly the story of an absolutely insane person. There is no doubt that Affleck’s Drew Latham suffers from some form of mental illness that precipitates the madness that unfolds in this film. And I don't understand why you would craft a carefree holiday comedy around somebody who desperately needs psychiatric attention.

It's never hard to spot a fan of Two Girls, One Cup.

Affleck plays a rich advertising executive who tries to take his girlfriend to Fiji for Christmas, but she hates tropical paradises and gets mad that he wants to spend baby Jesus' birthday not with family. After a bit of soul searching and a surprise visit to see his shrink Stephen Root at the airport (which would surely get him placed on the No Fly list today), Drew decides it's a good idea to write down his Christmas grievances, go to his former childhood home and set them on fire. REITERATE: Ben Affleck, on the advice of his mental health professional, goes to a stranger's yard to burn things. The yard belongs to Tony Soprano, so thankfully for the audience, Affleck's head soon meets the hard end of a snow shovel.

Little did you know that "The Sopranos" and JERSEY GIRL are set in the same universe. This is what happens when those two New Jersey worlds fatefully meet.

When Drew wakes up, he has the genius idea to pay the Soprano family $250,000 to adopt him as one of their own for Christmas. While a little wacky, this plot could lead to a genuine reflection on the loneliness of the holidays and the importance of family and friends. But that's not where SURVIVING CHRISTMAS takes it. No, Ben Affleck is crazy, remember? He brings in a lawyer to stipulate the exact terms of merriment that he will experience. He continually calls Mr. and Mrs. Soprano "Mom" and "Dad," which never ceases to be creepy for the entire movie (especially when he's telling his new mother how unconsciously sexy she is.) He hires an actor to pretend to be his "DooDa," or grandfather, as well as an African American understudy in case that one can't make it. He pelts his "brother" with snowballs to the face and kicks him out to the garage so he can sleep in his old room. He forces everyone to sing carols, sit for family portraits, pick out Christmas trees and, in the biggest sin, makes Tony Soprano wear a Santa hat. If you add in a gun and some duct tape, this could easily be a horror movie called HOSTAGE FOR THE HOLIDAYS.

Knowledge is power!

Affleck almost reaches GIGLI-level lows here, if that's even possible. His constant zaniness and childlike reversion is wholly unappealing but mesmerizing. The character is just so bizarre that his inclusion in a feature film is fascinating. The man actually writes scripts for the family to perform during dinner, including a prayer that revolves around how thankful they are to have him in their lives. And Affleck plays him so over the top, with a constant smile on his face, that he's either on drugs or laughing at his own movie.

Yes, that is Milton from OFFICE SPACE x-raying a baby. No, I can't explain it either.

Other people that should be embarrassed? James Gandolfini for starters. The bearded Tony Soprano is such a lame husband and father here that's its almost hard to watch. Kevin McCallister’s mom Catherine O'Hara takes another stab at the holiday genre and while she doesn't lose a kid this time around, she seems to have misplaced her dignity. And then there's Christina Applegate as the sister who loathes Drew with ever fiber of her being…until they take a magical toboggan ride together and she falls in love with him.

Drew was about to learn the very serious consequences of Tenacious D time.

Aside from the general premise, SURVIVING CHRISTMAS is also filled with a bunch of random subplots that make it perhaps one of the most horrible Christmas films ever. It opens with a depressing holiday montage that ends with an old lady sticking her head in the oven. There's an unending supply of inappropriate sexual humor as well. Ben Affleck macks on his own "sister" and the black understudy grandfather hits on his "daughter," which leaves lovely hints of incest in everyone's stockings. The mom has a sexy photo shoot with Udo Kier, which ends up on the internet. Ironically, the son's character is solely defined by his constant love of masturbating to internet porn. He's even joined at one point by his fake grandfather, and the two warmly surf the web looking for naked middle aged moms. Of course, since it's Christmas, this leads to the son discovering pictures of his own mother and at that exact moment, all his family and friends walk in to find him looking at the vagina from whence he came. Then at the end we learn that Ben Affleck never really had a family and was making all of these "memories" up. His mom had to work two jobs and he spent every Christmas with her at a diner. (So how exactly did they afford such a nice house?!) Bah humbug.

Norman Rockwell's "A Death of Assfleck."

Somehow in the midst of all this senseless nonsense, and despite absolutely nothing of substance taking place, everyone learns some miraculous Christmas lesson. The mom and dad relearn what it means to love again (despite her newfound porn star status), the son gives up his Fleshlight forever, and Ben Affleck finds the family he always wanted. And as mentioned before, he also falls in love with his “sister” and the film ends with people looking on in horror as the unbeknownst-to-them fake siblings make out in one final Christmas incest joke.

"Best" Line

Some joyful tidings that include Ben Affleck's long penis, hints of incest, internet porn and more!

"Best" Parts

1) Video proof that Ben Affleck is a crazy person.

2) A collection of horribly inappropriate holiday moments, including elderly suicide, naked moms and even more incest!

Nudity Watch

Catherine O'Hara does a sexy photo shoot, if that floats your boat.


C'mon Affleck, complete the Christmas movie trifecta! Until then, buy this movie here!

Play Along at Home!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • The son looks at porn
  • Tony Soprano wears a Santa hat
  • Ben Affleck says “bullshit”
  • James Gandolfini says "Doo-doo"
  • Fake incest happens or is hinted out
  • You spot a Tenacious D poster

Double shot when:

  • Ben Affleck gets injured

Thanks to Shawn for suggesting this week's movie!

Need some more Christmas cheer? Grab some spiked eggnog and get in the spirit of the season with the rest of our Awfully Good holiday movies:

Santa Claws: It's a scream queen Christmas for Debbie Rochon.
Christmas Caper: Shannen Doherty's been a bad girl this year.
Bikini Bloodbath Christmas: 'Tis the season for some pleasin'!
Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie destroys a classic.
Reindeer Games: Ben Affleck bones Charlize Theron in the spirit of the season.
Fred Claus: Vince Vaughn is a dick to Christmas.
Santa Paws: St. Nick's dog scars children.
Puppetmaster vs. Demonic Toys: Corey Feldman vs. Farting Christmas Baby.
Ernest Saves Christmas: Jim Varney plays with Santa's sack.
Deck The Halls: Danny DeVito naked and incest jokes.
Christmas Evil: Mommy does more than kiss Santa Claus.
Santa Clause 3: Martin Short terrifies children.
Santa Claus Conquers The Martians: Santa battles cheap production values.
Jack Frost (1998): Michael Keaton is a dead snowman.
Jack Frost (1996): Frosty rapes Shannon Elizabeth.
Jingle All The Way: Arnold punches reindeer for toys.
Santa's Slay: St. Nick murders Fran Drescher.

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Source: Digital Dorm
Tags: awfully good



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