DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Surviving Christmas

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Elliott, Dec 21, 2004.

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  1. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    [​IMG]

    Surviving Christmas


    [​IMG][​IMG]/[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]




    Studio: Dreamworks
    Year: 2004
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 91 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)/Open Matte
    Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
    Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    Retail Price: $29.95





    The screenwriters didn’t spend much time trying to write out a story here so I’ll keep it short and direct. Millionaire Drew Latham (Ben Affleck) looks at Christmas as some sort of silly holiday with a fat man so when his girlfriend demands to meet his family he pretty much kicks her out, which leads to him having a breakdown. He gets the advice of a doctor who suggests he should visit his childhood home, which he does. While there Drew decides to wants to try this Christmas thing out so he rents the family who lives there. He offers James Gandolfini and Catharine O’Hara $250,000 to play his parents for the holidays

    There have been hundreds of Christmas movies made over the past one hundred plus years and every once in a while we’re lucky enough to have one come along that makes you want to gather your family around the television set, sing songs with them and then afterwards tell all of them how much you love them. Surviving Christmas isn’t one of those films. This is the type of film that will make you want to look for the biggest tree in your neighborhood and hang yourself from it. This is not only the worst film I’ve seen this year but I’d also say it’s one of the worst films to every come out of Hollywood.

    In such a wreck of a movie I really don’t know where to start but I guess I’ll be unoriginal and attack Ben Affleck since that’s the cool thing to do right now. For starters, I’ve always enjoyed Affleck as an actor. While he certainly doesn’t have too much range for me at least he’s always been enjoyable to watch but whatever happened here is beyond me. His performance here is without a doubt one of the worst I’ve seen from any actor and that includes my kindergarten play where I remember one kid falling asleep on stage. My only guess is that Affleck was wanting to break away from his normal performance and try something new but it really blew up in his face.

    His performance is so over the top and obnoxious that there’s no way the viewer can connect with him and instead of feeling pity one can’t help but wish one of Santa’s reindeers would run over the guy so that the movie would come to an end. Not only is the performance very bad but it’s also an embarrassment and I really couldn’t help but feel sorry for the guy because he’s reaching all over the place for laughs but doesn’t get a single one. The supporting cast doesn’t fair any better with the exception of James Gandolfini who looks the part correctly but sadly the screenplay doesn’t offer him anything to do. Christina Applegate should stick to playing dumb blondes and Catherine O’Hara also goes way over the top and doesn’t find anything.

    At the five-minute mark of the movie the screenwriter credits pop up and it came as no surprise that four people were listed. That right there tells you something had to have gone wrong but this is obvious even before we see this. The opening credits push so hard for fake laughs that the viewer will have an uneasy feeling to their stomach due to their worry about what was going to happen next. The screenwriters must have thought showing a guy not being able to wrap a gift was funny. Other attempts at humor includes the mother posing on a porn site, which her loser son stumbles upon and more human in Affleck accidentally hiring a black man to play his grandfather.

    Surviving Christmas is a horrid movie from start to finish and it’s really no shock that this is debuting on DVD less than two months from when it was released into theaters. Am I being too harsh on this film? I personally don’t think so because I love watching bad movies because they usually have something to laugh at but this one here is so bad that it’s not funny in a bad way. I’m not sure what went wrong with this film but my good deed of the year will to be to make sure no one else wastes 90-minutes of their life on this film. If I can keep others from suffering in this mess then I’m sure Santa will bring me some great gifts this year.


    VIDEO---The movie is shown widescreen (1.85:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. I’m sure Dreamworks is highly embarrassed by this film but in their usual standard, if there are fans of this film out there then you’re going to be greeted with a very good transfer. The only real flaw is some very minor edge enhancement that can be seen in a few scenes but I doubt you’ll notice this unless you’re watching on a projector or a larger screen. The rest of the transfer is up to Dreamworks usual high standards. The flesh tones look very accurate and colors are full of vivid details. When judging colors I always pay close attention to the reds and greens and both of those look wonderful here. The detail is so good that you can easily make out everything in the scenes and can even tell a certain scene where CGI is used as snow. Black levels are also very good and constant throughout. An open matte version is also included on the disc.

    AUDIO---The only option here is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which does the job just fine for a dialogue driven film. The entire track is front heavy but this is to be expected with this type of film. The dialogue is crystal clear and loud throughout with good separation and fine balance. The Surrounds are mainly used to show off the Christmas soundtrack and comes off quite well. A few sound effects are thrown in the Surrounds but there isn’t much action going on here. I don’t recall the rears ever coming into play. A French 5.1 track is also available.

    EXTRAS---Up first is an alternate opening sequence but it’s never explained why this wasn’t used in the film. It’s really no better than what we’ve got in the actual movie so this certainly wouldn’t have saved the film. Up next is the HBO First Look, which gives us a behind the scenes look at the making of the film but unfortunately we don’t get to learn what went wrong here. We get interviews with the cast and director who are mean hearted enough to try and pass this film off as something great but if you look close enough it’s pretty easy to tell that none of them really have any hopes about the film. A storyboard gallery is also included, which contains quite a few different looks at the settings used in the film. No theatrical trailer is included, which is becoming a standard for Dreamworks for some reason.

    OVERALL---I’m a sucker for almost any Christmas movie but this one here is an insult to anyone watching it so hopefully, for the sake of its actors, everyone will just let this turkey die so that no one else has to go through the torture. However, if any of the twenty people who saw this in the theater actually enjoyed it then Dreamworks delivers a fine disc.


    Release Date: December 21st, 2004
     
  2. Jason Adams

    Jason Adams Supporting Actor

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    Wow...doesn't this set some type of fastest to DVD record? Two months! This was in theaters two months ago!
     
  3. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    I can't think of a faster release:

    Theater release: 10/22/04
    DVD release: 12/21/04
     
  4. Brent M

    Brent M Producer

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    Since I haven't seen either one, a question for those who have suffered through both Gigli and Surviving Christmas--which one is worse? Maybe Hollywood should have a "three strikes and you're out" policy. Hint hint, Mr. Affleck. [​IMG]
     
  5. Laurence Price

    Laurence Price Stunt Coordinator

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    Ben Affleck has gone far beyond three strikes. [​IMG]
     
  6. Brent M

    Brent M Producer

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    I was just thinking in terms of the last year or so, but yeah if you look at his career he's already "out". [​IMG]


    By the way, I just checked Rotten Tomatoes to see which scored higher, Gigli or Surviving Christmas. They both had the exact same rating of 7%. For comparison, From Justin to Kelly has a rating of 9%. WOW!
     
  7. Beau

    Beau Supporting Actor

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    I saw this movie in theaters and I actually really liked it. Very funny. Poor Benny, everyone hates you but me.[​IMG]
     
  8. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    Well this is the closest it might come to what I imagine will happen one day: you buy a ticket at the theater, watch the movie and they hand you the DVD on the way out(probably for an additional $10).
     
  9. Erwin

    Erwin Stunt Coordinator

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    From another perspective, I thought the movie was good. It's no classic and it's not nearly as good as "Christmas with the Kranks(sp?)", but it's funny. I just wish Ben didn't display two personalities inconsistant with one another. He pays the family a large amount of money to be his family during Christmas; it has loop holes, but I think some people will actually like the movie. James Gandolfini is one good reason to view this movie. He basically can't stand Ben being around the house, but he's willing to pretend he's the father for $250,000.
     
  10. DanielM

    DanielM Stunt Coordinator

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    I actually thought it was pretty funny...although I liked the alternate intro sequence better than the one that was used
     
  11. Steve K.H.

    Steve K.H. Supporting Actor

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    Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty are Ben Affleck's biggest lobbiests for his continued foray within the film making world.

    (we never forget though)
     
  12. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

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    Add another vote to the "It isn't THAT bad" list. It has its moments. Infinitely better than JERSEY GIRL (which is itself far worse than GIGLI). So, it isn't even Affleck's worst of the year.

    But, as even the above review states, it is hip to bash Ben Affleck now so the reviews for this are a lot worse than they should be.

    As for the theatrical to DVD window being so short, the film was made last year and intended for a Christmas 2003 release. But, because Affleck had another film out (PAYCHECK) that they contractually couldn't compete against, they had to hold it to release this year. They released it in October, probably knowing that they could get the DVD out by Christmas. Christmas DVDs don't sell well in February.
     
  13. BrandonJF

    BrandonJF Second Unit

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    Add my name to the list of people coming out of the woodwork who liked this one. It's not without it's problems, but it was so much more enjoyable than most of the other so-called "comedies" that are being released these days.

    Not everyone hates Affleck, Beau. It does certainly seem like it's the "cool" thing to do right now, but I really like him. Admittedly, I became a fan based on his commentary track for Armageddon (one of the funniest things I think I've ever heard is Affleck making fun of that movie), but I think he is really taking worse hits then he deserves.
     
  14. ClaytonMG

    ClaytonMG Stunt Coordinator

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    The fastest release I believe belongs to From Justin To Kelly which was 27 days or something like that.
     
  15. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    For the record, I really didn't think GIGLI was that bad. As for Affleck, I personally hope he's career isn't over because I've enjoyed him in everything except for this here. I personally don't care who he slept with and I'm certainly not going to bash him for his girlfriends. Some say he might not be able to act but how many out there can? [​IMG] For now he should probably give Hollywood a rest and try an indy film or two.

    I'm glad, if somewhat shocked, that others liked this movie. I think I laughed three times (the sister/brother stuff) and the rest of the time I was stonefaced.
     
  16. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    Nope - 67 days.
     
  17. MarcusUdeh

    MarcusUdeh Supporting Actor

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    Isn't New Line's "The Real Cancun" the shortest release to DVD?
     
  18. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    Nope - 67 days, same as From Justin to Kelly. Movie released 4/25/03, DVD released 7/1/03. Y'know, folks, it's not that tough to look up this information instead of just guessing...
     
  19. Brent M

    Brent M Producer

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    You know, just thinking about the fact that Hollywood has produced movies like From Justin to Kelly, The Real Cancun, Gigli and Surviving Christmas in the past year makes me want to puke my intestines out. [​IMG]
     
  20. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    Micheal Elliott should get some extra goodies in his stocking for having to review this bile. (It is a well written review.) My wife and I both left the theater in utter disbelief that any movie could be this bad.

    What gets me is the $29.99 MSRP. I would almost bet that this will be in the $5.50 bin within a few months. Even then it's still overpriced by about $5.50. [​IMG]

    Steve
     

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