Special guest reviewer: Mr. Smiley!
Mr. Smiley's rating:
Fantastic! The feel good hit of the season!
This is a movie about my favorite holiday of the year, Christmas. Now, I have a secret I have to tell you: There's never been a Christmas movie made that I just didn't love to the point of almost tinkling myself because every one of them reminds me about how beautiful it is to spend time with my family and celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus.
In this film, Drew Latham (Ben Affleck) rents a family for the holidays because he doesn't have one of his own to spend it with. He returns to his childhood home and finds a perfectly good family there: Tom Valco (James Gandolfini), his wife, Christine (Catherine O'Hara), and their son, Brian (Josh Zuckerman). They also have a daughter, Alicia (Christina Applegate), who comes home for the holidays so that the entire Valco family can celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus together. Isn't togetherness wonderful?
Initially, the Valcos don't really like Drew and don't want to participate in his plan because many people believe that celebrating the birth of the baby Jesus is a private matter to be shared by family members, but they eventually agree to let him spend his holidays with them because he offers to give them $250,000 and, of course, because they love the baby Jesus! Isn't that great? Think of all the wonderful things the Valcos could do with that money. They could donate it to charity or buy socks for all the homeless people with cold feet. So in exchange for that incredible opportunity, they let Drew stay with them.
The acting is so wonderful in this film that I'm still smiling just thinking about it. Ben Affleck is bright and plastic like a new toy and everybody loves new toys. James Gandolfini is exactly like he is in "The Sopranos" and because I love that HBO show so much and he reminded me of it, I couldn't stop smiling throughout the entire film. In fact, I kept tapping the person next to me on the shoulder and saying, "Isn't he just like Tony Soprano?" Then there's Christina Applegate, whom we all remember from "Married with Children" where she played the slutty daughter, but now she's not slutty at all. She's caring and pretty and wonderful! It's so great for young girls to know that they can go from slutty to wonderful and I'm so proud of Christina for having the courage to set that example.
My only complaint was when, a bit before the end, the movie stopped and switched over to the last 10 minutes of "Friday Night Lights" because, as the manager told me, "Surviving Christmas" had "gone to video" -- right as I was watching it! It was a beautiful moment, like watching a baby puppy being born. I guess word got out about how great it was and people just couldn't wait to rent it! It would make the baby Jesus smile to know that "Surviving Christmas" proved to be such a wonderful Christmas present for everyone!
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