Surviving Christmas (2004)

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Released 28-Nov-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-HBO First Look: Surviving Christmas
Credits-Alternate Opening Sequence
Gallery-Storyboard Gallery
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 87:00 (Case: 91)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (52:55) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Mike Mitchell
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Ben Affleck
James Gandolfini
Christina Applegate
Catherine O'Hara
Josh Zuckerman
Bill Macy
Jennifer Morrison
Udo Kier
David Selby
Stephanie Faracy
Stephen Root
Sy Richardson
Tangie Ambrose
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Randy Edelman
Jani Lane


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
German
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Highly paid executive Drew Latham (Ben Affleck) suffers a breakdown when his girlfriend (Jennifer Morrison) breaks up with him a few days before Christmas. Afraid to spend the holiday alone, Drew hops a cab to his childhood home and offers the family now living there, the Valco family (James Gandolfini, Kathryn O'Harrah, Christina Applegate and Josh Zuckerman), $250,000 to be his family for Christmas. The one catch being that they have to act as his family always did so that he feels like he really is back home for the holidays - no matter how ridiculous his requests. Hilarity ensues (or doesn't, as is actually the case).

    Surviving Christmas is a train wreck from beginning to end. Virtually every aspect of the film is flawed to the point that you have to wonder how anybody involved in the production could have agreed to take part. I guess there were some hefty cheques made out by producers who were looking for a sure-fire way out of the movie business. While I could go on all day ranting about the faults of this movie it simply isn't worth my time writing such a rant, nor your time reading it. Instead I will just rattle off a few of the big problems:

    To be fair, James Gandolfini and Kathryn O'Harrah manage to wring one or two chuckles out of the jumble of words that appears to have passed as a script, but this only goes to make you wonder how much they were paid to appear in this mess when they could have been doing something worthwhile. Now, back to drilling that hole in my head (much more fun than watching Surviving Christmas again).

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The film is given the mediocre video transfer that it probably deserved. The image is a little soft and mild grain is visible in many scenes. There is a reasonable level of detail in shadows and into areas.

    The colours are a little dull and occasionally appear slightly washed out.

    Mild pixelation is visible, particularly in scenes with a lot of movement. Occasional film artefacts are visible throughout the film, though none are bigger than a fleck of dust.

     English subtitles for the hearing-impaired present. They appeared to be accurate and well timed based on the portion I sampled.

    This is a RSDL disc. The layer break occurs at 52:55 but was not noticeable on my equipment.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The film features an English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) audio track and a German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384 Kbps) audio track.

    The dialogue is clearly audible throughout (which isn't necessarily for the best given these lame jokes) and is reasonably well synchronised to the video.

    The music for the film is a rather vulgar and crassly festive orchestral score, by Randy Edelman.

    The surround speakers are used sparingly, though that isn't much of a surprise given the production values of the film, as is the subwoofer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

HBO First Look Featurette (11:34)

    A painfully generic press kit featurette. It really shows you nothing you wouldn't have seen or figured out from the movie itself.

Alternate Opening (2:18)

    This extra is actually quite interesting. It provides a degree of insight as to how much meddling the producers of the film must have done late in the piece. This opening is actually very similar to the one in the actual movie, only much blacker and much funnier.

Storyboard Gallery

    A series of six storyboard galleries depicting early scenes of the movie. These are actually not too bad - maybe the movie would have worked better as a comic strip.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 and Region 4 versions of this DVD are identical, save for PAL/NTSC differences.

Summary

    Surviving Christmas was nearly a career killer for Ben Affleck, and deservedly so. Think of the title as a challenge, only substitute "this movie" for "Christmas".

     The video quality is mediocre. The audio is serviceable. The extras are almost adequate.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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