December 27, 2016

Surviving Christmas.


Review #890: Surviving Christmas.

Cast:
Ben Affleck (Drew Latham), James Gandolfini (Tom Valco), Christina Applegate (Alicia Valco), Catherine O'Hara (Christine Valco), Josh Zuckerman (Brian Valco), Bill Macy (Doo-Dah/Saul), Jennifer Morrison (Missy Vangilder), and Udo Kier (Heinrich) Directed by Mike Mitchell.

Review:
Here's a quick description of how the movie is: It's terrible. It is easy to say this movie is terrible, because it is terrible on a massive scale. The majority of the jokes do not land. The characters aren't ones to root for in any capacity, nor ones we should be following. The story trudges at such a bland pace that borders on being tedious that it makes for not only an unfunny movie but also a boring movie. It isn't so much Affleck's fault as it is the script's fault for being bad. Never once does his character come off as anything other than pathetic or flat out creepy. His pursuit of trying to spend time with people so he isn't alone on Christmas (which means bribing a family, naturally) never really rises to a level where I should actually care. It just comes off as sad, not something to inspire laughs, which is a problem in a movie trying desperately (or for a lack of a better word, lamely) to make you laugh. Gandolfini is somewhat better, in the sense that his character seems easier to go along with. It doesn't mean he's likable, but it does mean that it seems more easier to accept. Applegate doesn't have a bad edge to her either, but she also doesn't really have much characterization either. Her chemistry with Affleck seems more basic than anything else, with no real sort of impact. It's nice to see O'Hara, but her character also isn't really anything of note. When one of the quips of the movie is a Sonny Bono reference (to his skiing accident, no less), it really does say something about just how this movie wants to take itself.

Perhaps it is easy to make a cynical kind of Christmas movie, which this film falls under. These are movies that try to be festive by completely taking the spirit out of what makes movies, and in effect the holiday being covered. There are movies like Elves (#680), which are dumb, but harmless in its attempt at cheer, even with killer elves. Then there are movies like Christmas with the Kranks (#082) and Just Friends (#838), ones with the bare minimum of cheer along with a lack of laughs. But then there are movies like Santa Claus (1959, #309) Jingle All the Way (#491), The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (#496), Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (#507), Four Christmases (#772) and A Madea Christmas (#872), where it seems that cheer has been replaced with some form of misery, intentional or not. There aren't really any sort of laughs because of the movie, though it can inspire laughs at its expense. And then of course there is Deck the Halls (#497), the ultimate in terrible Christmas movies (for this show), a movie that sucks out the holiday spirit completely with a baseless plot and even more baseless characters. But with all of this, where does Saving Christmas stand? I'd say it falls around the bottom, managing to be a movie bereft of fun while also tremendously tedious as well.

Most of the examples listed actually sound like they could've been made into dramas, in part because they aren't really funny enough to be anything other than sad ideas. In fact, this film actually does have some attempt at drama, particularly at the end, but of course the movies doesn't actually have any sort of buildup nor does it earn any sort of pity. Most of these movies (except Santa Claus Conquers the Martians) deserve pity for being terrible. Here's the bottom line: Skip this movie.

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Overall, I give it 3 out of 10 stars.

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