SURVIVING CHRISTMAS | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


Determined to spend Christmas with a family -- any family -- the rich and crass Drew (Ben Affleck) crashes the holiday of the suburban Valco family in this comedy from Mike Mitchell. For $250,000 "Dad" (James Gandolfini) and "Mom" (Catherine O'Hara) agree to play along. This early-to-market holiday film won't put anybody in the mood: It's another pastiche of Christmas-tree-light jokes, fake snow and it's-family-that-counts bromides that get trotted out every year. Gandolfini and O'Hara are great -- and I wished Mitchell had built a dark little Xmas fable around their everyday holiday drudgery ("We're already fakin' it," sighs O'Hara, signing the deal). Instead, we get the quite unfunny Affleck flailing about, and never selling the film's central conceit: that handsome, single, obscenely rich men spend every Christmas alone.