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Surviving Christmas | 2004 | PG-13 | - 5.3.4

Black comedy about a successful advertising professional (Ben Affleck) who finds himself alone on Christmas after his girlfriend (Jennifer Morrison) dumps him, and cannot bear it. So he returns to his childhood home where a new family (James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hara, Christina Applegate and Josh Zuckerman) now lives. He offers them $250,000 to act as his "family" for the holidays. They agree with reservations, and as they begin to act out the childhood memories of their visitor, they realize how unhappy their own lives really are. Directed by Mike Mitchell. [1:32]

SEX/NUDITY 5 - A man and a woman kiss in a few scenes. Two men kiss (they are a gay couple). A man kisses a woman on the cheek. A man and a woman dance close together. A man comes close to a woman's face and appears to be contemplating kissing her. A man (pretending to be a woman's father) leans in to kiss her romantically, and the woman's husband makes a remark about the man making a move on her. A man says that a man and a woman "are making out." We see several images of scantily clad women on porn websites, while a teenage boy surfs the Internet (there are several allusions to what he is doing since he's spending so much time on his computer in his room). A teenage boy looks at an image on a computer screen of a woman in a suggestive pose and it turns out to be his mother, other people see the picture as well and there are a few references to an incestual relationship (there is none). People look at a picture of a baby and make comments about the size of his endowment. An elderly man talks about having to go behind a barn with a "dirty" girl and pay her to show him her private parts when he was young. A man looks at a woman and admires her. A teenage boy draws an outline of a woman with bare breasts on the condensation on a car window. A man says (with glee) that he was propositioned by a hooker. A woman wears a very tight corset and we see her in other revealing costumes during a photo shoot (she strikes suggestive poses in a few shots). A woman wears a low-cut dress that reveals cleavage, a woman wears a top that is off-the-shoulder and reveals cleavage and her bare shoulder. A man and a woman hold hands.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 3 - A man is hit hard on the head with a shovel and falls unconscious. A man falls through a stair railing and on to the floor. A teenage boy is hit repeatedly in the face and body with snowballs. A man chases another man while throwing snowballs at him (we see the man's face with bruises later). A man pushes a woman and she runs into a door as it is being opened. A man and a woman are tobogganing down a steep hill; they nearly hit trees, and are thrown off the toboggan and land hard on the ground. A man threatens to put a hat into a man's rectum. A woman puts her head in an oven, a man throws a box out a window, and a man falls off a ladder (all during opening credits and we hear a voiceover about the frustrations of families at Christmas). A man and a woman argue in many scenes, and a man and a woman yell at their son a few times. A little girl crawls onto the conveyor belt at an airport security station and we see her X-ray on a screen (it is a skeletal outline). A computer monitor is dropped over a balcony and it sparks and shatters when it hits the floor. A man sets a piece of paper on fire. A man is startled and drops a ham on the floor. A woman chops a marshmallow into small pieces with a large cleaver. A tray table collapses, spilling a plate of food and a beverage on the floor. A man urinates in a toilet (we hear the trickle) and a woman walks in on him.


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LANGUAGE 4 - 2 sexual references, 11 scatological terms (2 mild), 9 anatomical terms, 7 mild obscenities, 12 religious exclamations.


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SUBSTANCE USE - People are shown drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Family, loneliness, Christmas, love, relationships, divorce, incest, extortion, childhood memories, vulgarity, lying, internet pornography, saying you're sorry, forgiveness.

MESSAGE - Although sometimes frustrating, there is nothing like spending holidays with family.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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