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'Christmas': Ben Affleck Is Coming to Town

By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 22, 2004; Page WE37

Benjamin Geza Affleck! I'm beginning to see your game, man. You are trying to beat out Pauly Shore and Cuba Gooding Jr. for worst movie posterboy of all time. Right? Has to be true. I mean: "Jersey Girl," "Paycheck," "Gigli," "Daredevil," "Pearl Harbor." Dude, you're on a roll.

This latest movie is absolutely awesome in its relentless mediocrity. You must have thrown out scripts by the hundreds before you unearthed this Christmas turkey about a lonely rich yuppie (excellent choice: Someone no one can relate to!) who has no family and no friends (awwwwww!). And who pays money to the family living in his old childhood home to spend Christmas with him. A family, that is, of one-dimensional archetypes, including James Gandolfini as a bearded grump with a heart of gold; his frumpy, frustrated wife (Catherine O'Hara); and a teenager (Josh Zuckerman) who watches porn on his computer. And because you are Ben-the-playa, you're torn between two women: the rich, empty chick (Jennifer Morrison) and the grumpy, serious but ultimately genuine Alicia (Christina Applegate).

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I don't want to spoil the plot because, well, there isn't one. It's just a by-the-numbers romance-farce-whatever that stars you-you-you in doo-doo-doo. Merry Christmas, pal, even though it's not even Thanksgiving yet. Can't wait for your next one. Keep 'em coming!

SURVIVING CHRISTMAS (PG-13, 92 minutes) --Contains sexual content, obscenity, a drug reference and, of course, Affleck. Area theaters.


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