Surviving “Surviving Christmas”

Quick recap: Drew Latham, a wealthy advertising executive with matching lifestyle (that penthouse apartment!), gets dumped just before Christmas because he won’t introduce his girlfriend to the mysterious family he refuses to talk about. Terrified at the prospect of spending Christmas alone, he goes back to his childhood home and offers the complete strangers currently living there $250,000 to be his surrogate family over the holidays. Hilarity spectacularly fails to ensue.

I know how you feel

OK, first I would like to make something very clear: that was painful. Never in my life have I seen such a stupid story involving such unlikeable characters, and I’ve seen Juno!

This film utterly baffles me. None of the characters make any sense as human beings. They only do things because the script says so. I just don’t understand whose side we, the audience, are supposed to be on.

Why does Drew’s girlfriend start behaving like a total harpy only seconds after being introduced to the viewers (when we don’t care about her or her feelings yet, and now never will) right after discovering he wants to take her to Fiji for Christmas instead of spending it with his family? One minute they’re a loving couple, the next he’s dumped, just like that? What exactly is wrong with Fiji anyway? Can I have her unwanted plane ticket?

Also, they’ve obviously been together for a while but she’s never asked about his family before? And now she’s suddenly telling him he “needs serious help” because they’ve never talked about them?… Why did they not make plans earlier, or even discussed what they both wanted to do over Christmas? Did the sudden, unexpected arrival of December 25th take them by surprise?

By the way, it looks like not spending Christmas with your family is a huge deal here, yet I thought the ultimate US family holiday was Thanksgiving (or so they keep telling us). What did Drew and Harpy do for Thanksgiving then, and why didn’t she ask about his family at the time?

The lame scene where he tries to crash his friends’ family Christmases and they all turn him down is just bizarre. True friends would say yes, unless he himself has not been a good friend to them in the past. Also, why does he care so much and why is spending Christmas alone only a problem this year?

What’s the deal with the scene at the airport with Harpy’s shrink? I cannot even begin to comprehend the point of this. All Drew says to him is “I’m spending Christmas alone and having a bad time”, and the shrink gives him advice on how to deal with “grievances” about his family and how to “forgive” them? When he knows NOTHING about Drew’s family or why he’s alone in the first place? That’s some assumption.

Oh, and while I’m at it: out of control brats in public places are not cute.

Another stinking scene: Drew gets violently hit over the head with a shovel, when he’s not actually being a threat to anyone. Oh my sides, they’re splitting.

You can't deny Affleck deserves it though

Speaking of which, why is everyone’s default setting ‘hostile and rude’ even before they know what Drew is like? The daughter’s introduction comes to mind. Is it supposed to be funny to Americans, in a ‘refreshing alternative to the standard diabetes-inducing Christmas comedy’ kind of way? Hollywood unfortunately cannot stomach true cynicism so even these refreshing alternatives MUST have a happy ending. How cowardly and disappointing.

Drew is absolutely obnoxious to the poor family he takes hostage. The sudden switches from self-consciously childlike goon to cold, hard-nosed businessman are actually rather scary. This man has mental health issues. He knows perfectly well he’s turned these people’s life into a nightmare (they’re not exactly hiding their feelings) but doesn’t seem to care one bit. It’s like Funny Games remade by Walt Disney.

The mother’s makeover and photoshoot story could have been nice but ends up being grotesque and tasteless. How did her pictures end up on a porn site in the first place (was she supposed to be naked in those pics? Unlikely) and what are the chances that her porn-addicted teenage son (PATS) should instantly come across them? That sound you just heard was my disbelief crashing through the floor, take no notice.

And then Harpy the whiny bitch who dumped Drew for no reason whatsoever earlier in the film suddenly comes back into his life, all smiles, because she likes the Cartier bracelet he gave her… nice. Her parents are gratuitously and unbelievably rude to the other family (“Your Christmas tree is so bright and vulgar!”) who for all they know are Drew’s real family. Why is that again? And are we supposed to be amused that they’re having a couple crisis and taking it out on everyone else?

The daughter hates Drew’s guts for three-quarters of the film then all of a sudden is in love with him?! I’ve heard of Stockholm Syndrome but this is ridiculous.

Nothing says true love like a stare off in the snow

What the HELL was that baby penis joke about? Only Larry David can get away with joking about children’s genitalia. Take note, screenwriters.

And then they add an incest joke, in case we weren’t vomiting just yet (Harpy and parents witnessing Drew snogging his supposed sister). My, this is Oscar material, isn’t it?

Oh, and is the aforementioned PATS that nobody in the family cares about supposed to be funny too? I keep missing those memos, dammit!

The big reveal is neither big nor revealing: we are told Drew actually had no dad and no family Christmases as a child, so why the whole “I’m home!” happy moment at the beginning when he got to spend the night in his old room? And why not tell anyone about it? It’s not like he came from a family of serial killers. What exactly was the point of hiding his past? Unfortunately for him, by the time we find out about his childhood trauma, we’re too sick to our stomachs to care.

But never mind all that! The only thing that matters now is that everyone loves each other, no matter how contrived it looks! Even the PATS manages to get himself a last-minute girlfriend, yay him!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow, THE END. And not a minute too soon.

Yes dear, we all have our cross to bear

Entitled Teenager vs. Real World

Teenage boy is turned away from Girl Guide meeting and predictably cries sex discrimination

He “assumed” he would be welcome, did he? Well he obviously assumed wrong! I used to be a Girl Guide (albeit in France, in a very conservative Catholic movement with strict no-boys rules) and I would have resented it greatly if a fellow member’s friend had been allowed to crash a meeting. The key word here is ‘member’. You don’t just wander in, it’s not the local library! The only non-members who were allowed to take part in meetings were people who were considering joining and wanted to see what it was like. This obviously cannot apply to him; what part of ‘girl guide’ does he not understand? What on earth possessed his friends to invite him without checking it was all right anyway? They at least should have known better. Oh wait, I know, they must have “assumed” it would be fine. Silly me.

Plus, that boy is an idiot; if he wanted to visit a convent and the nuns didn’t let him in, would he be making such a fuss? Actually, he probably would… In this world of rights without responsibilities, God forbid that anyone should be barred from doing exactly what they want.

“Guiding bosses have fiercely defended their stance, saying it was ‘vital’ in today’s society for a girls-only group to be available.”

Couldn’t agree more. I asked to go to an all-girls school at the age of 12 after being badly bullied by boys at my previous school, and it was like a breath of fresh air. I loved the Guides but would never have joined in the first place if boys had been allowed, which would have been such a shame as I would have missed out on a wonderful experience. OK, I’m an extreme case as I totally hated boys as a teenager and never wanted to come into contact with one ever again (I got better) but I do think it’s healthy for boys and girls to do some activities separately.

My old school started accepting boys the year I left, which made me feel sad and was against their principles (the school was originally founded by nuns and there were still a few teaching there), but they were probably not getting enough girl pupils and losing too much money. Nowadays boys and girls are used to being together all the time and probably see it as cruel and unfair to be separated, but that’s because they can’t see past their hormones.

Apparently boys do better at co-ed schools (probably due to the girls’ ‘civilising’ influence, ha ha) but girls do better at single-sex schools, and I can see why. Girls behave very differently when boys are around. They’re suddenly in competition with each other for the boys’ attention, which is not conducive to a good atmosphere; I saw it with my own eyes in my last year at school, when the new boy in my class acquired a groupie following on the first day! Before the male invasion, no one cared what you looked like and there was no stigma against being academic. A breath of fresh air, I tell you. And contrary to the stereotype, the girls were not bitchy at all.

Same thing with the Guides. The uniform may have been just a little bit on the unflattering side but there was no one to laugh at us, make us feel self-conscious or label us “fit” or “minging” (see below – pic from the web, don’t try looking for me!).

Ahhh, bliss.

Now imagine wearing this in front of boys