Brando. Paccino. Olivier.
DeNiro. And now, the latest addition to the list of master
thespians...Affleck. Of course, he's a bit further down on the
list. He's somewhere between Jim Varney and Pauly Shore.
Trashing a Ben Affleck movie is like beating a dead horse. But
the dead horse of Ben Affleck's career somehow keeps breathing. It
gets up, it trots to the next crappy movie, and it collapses again.
There are so many easy shots to take at this film that the Masked
Reviewer doesn't think it's challenging.
It's Reindeer Games meets Gigli.
It'll bomb like Pearl Harbor.
You'll be lucky to survive Surviving Christmas.
But what happened to the Christmas spirit? Surely, in the name
of peace and love, the Masked Reviewer could come up with some positive
things to say about the movie? Sure! Why not? It's
Christmas! Well, okay, it's not Christmas...but I'm sure the film
makers decided that a late October release for Surviving Christmas
would be good, since it will definitely be running for eight weeks.
It's a guaranteed mega-hit. Ben Affleck is box office gold, you
Here's the positive: It's the best Christmas movie of the year so
There! You probably thought the Masked Reviewer couldn't come
up with anything, didn't you? (By the way, "best Christmas of
movie of the year" doesn't refer to the calendar year; both Bad
Santa and Elf were much better. The "year" means the
year starting October 15th.)
So, maybe this criticism isn't constructive so far. Just
because Ben Affleck starred in Boiler Room, Paycheck, Jersey Girl,
Pearl Harbor, Bounce, Dogma, Daredevil, Reindeer Games, Sum of All
Fears, and, of course, Gigli, doesn't mean that every movie
he's in is horrible. Right? Changing Lanes with
Samuel L. Jackson wasn't that bad. Daredevil had moments.
And, let's not forget Armageddon -- it's symbolic of the rest of
The Masked Reviewer is going to write this review without one
single mention of Jennifer Lopez (J-Lo). Ben Affleck (B-Fleck)
and J-Lo are over. Move on with your lives. You don't have
to mention J-Lo in everything written about B-Fleck. He's got
enough problems without bringing her up.
Okay, on to the heart of the issue. It's not that Ben Affleck
is a bad guy -- he seems like a nice enough fellow. It's not like
he's a giant annoying pretentious fat head like Jon Favreau...B-Fleck
has some charm. The problem is, his charm isn't enough to carry a
There are a lot of actors who, no matter what they appear in, have a
bigger presence themselves than their character. Whatever movie
they're in, it's them. Spencer Tracy. Humphrey Bogart.
Pauly Shore. You don't see the character past the actor. Ben
Affleck may have that problem (if it is a problem). Look at every
performance he's given in the last six years. He plays one part:
Ben Affleck. To his credit, he plays that part perfectly.
Whenever he tries to "act", it looks like Ben Affleck acting.
And no one should have to pay money to see that.
In Surviving Christmas, Ben Affleck plays a very peppy,
energetic, kind of innocent (while kind of sleezy) character. He's
basically a straight Richard Simmons. That should be enough info
for most people right there.
James Gandolfini (of "Sopranos" fame) and Catherine O'Hara (A
Mighty Wind) provide the support for B-Fleck. To their credit,
both James Gandolfini and Catherine O'Hara (no relation to O'Hare
airport in Chicago) don't try to be over-the-top and goofy...their
performances are just right for this kind of movie. James
Gandolfini has perfected the icy cold contemptuous stare of death.
It's the same look you'll have in your eye when you leave the theater
after seeing Surviving Christmas, as you think about the ten
bucks you just blew.
It's also the same look that he probably shot at his agent for
getting him involved in this project.
The story is flimsy. It's Hack 101. Granted, it's a
comedy, but the writers could have tried a little bit harder. All
the jokes can be seen coming from a mile away. And when they
arrive, they're not worth the wait. There's nothing that the
Masked Reviewer can even single out as a funny moment. From the
opening montage (which establishes that it's Christmas season, but
doesn't set the tone for a comedy) to the last scene, there's nothing
that's memorably funny. You might chuckle a few times, but the
biggest laughs come from how pathetic it is.
And that's where Surviving Christmas comes close to
succeeding, strangely. Ben Affleck is way over-the-top, and the
script is corny and just plain stupid. But at times, you can laugh
(while sadly shaking your head and saying "Oh brother..."). It
almost seems like that's where they were trying to go, like maybe Ben
Affleck realized that the only laughs to be had were at him
rather than with him. Maybe that's giving him too much
credit, but it's something.
There's a love story, too. There had to be, right?
B-Fleck is a heartthrob, so they brought in Christina Applegate
("Married with Children") to provide that magical holiday romantic
spark. Again, weak writing makes that element of the story
entirely unbelievable. One moment, they hate each other, the next
(and this might be considered a big spoiler, so don't read the rest of
this sentence if you don't want a big surprise ruined!) they kiss.
You knew it would happen, there's no question, just like everything else
in the movie.
It's a Ben Affleck movie. Those five words tell you all you
need to know. If you love him, you'll enjoy it. He tries,
but he needs better agents to get him into roles that he can play.
Perhaps he'll get the lead in "The Ben Affleck Story". He'd be
Expectation from the Title: After his sleigh crashes on a
deserted island, Santa won't have his elves to help him; he'll have to
make it on his own. It's Cast Away meets Miracle on 42nd
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
Ben Affleck seems like a nice person.
The Pros: There are some classic catchy Christmas tunes in the
The Cons: Horrible writing, predictable, not funny.
If you're looking for information on Ben
Afleck, you came to the right place!