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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.