Crash is a smart and provocative drama that challenges the audience with complex racial and social issues. The film's discussion of race relations during the season of "Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward Men" is quite apt. And while the racial messages may be heavy handed at times, there are some truly powerful moments that stay with you long after the film ends. Equally as impressive is the ensemble cast, as each actor delivers a strong, compelling performance. Shades of gray and ambiguity surround each character, giving them an authenticity that keeps them from becoming two-dimensional stereotypes. Additionally, the filmmakers refrain from giving clear-cut answers, or making judgments; letting the audience come to their own conclusions instead. Crash is a raw, hard-hitting drama that takes a challenging look at society, and forces the audience to confront their preconceptions.
Lacking the magic of the season, Surviving Christmas is a shallow and uninspired film. Ben Affleck plays an eccentric millionaire ad executive who makes a deal with the family living at his childhood home to let him stay there and to help him live out his fantasy of an old fashion family Christmas. Affleck gives a phoned in performance, but co-star Christina Applegate really shines. The humor is also hit and miss, as a lot of it is in bad taste and inappropriate for a family comedy. There are a few moments of fun in Surviving Christmas, but there's no heart.
Bat shit crazy doesn't even begin to describe John Dies at the End. The plot is incoherent, but has something to do with paranormal investigators and creatures from another dimension. Part of the problem is the script (which is extremely poor), however the acting is also pathetic. And while some of the comedy works, there's just too much insanity going on. John Dies at the End is DOA.
Wild and crazy, The Hangover is an outrageous comedy with non-stop laughs. The morning after an out-of-control Vegas bachelor party three friends have to retrace their steps in order to find the groom and get him to his wedding. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis make for a hilarious comedy team and have great chemistry together. And, the storytelling is really good, weaving a fun mystery full of shocking surprises. The humor gets a little overly crass and vulgar, but most of it works. Full of hysterical shenanigans, The Hangover is incredibly entertaining.