review for Surviving Eden on AllMovie

Surviving Eden (2004)
by Craig Butler review

It would seem like a satirical look at reality television would write itself, and maybe that's the problem with Greg Pritikin's Surviving Eden. Perhaps the writer/director simply assumed that setting up a basic situation would be enough to inspire him on the set to fill out the story in a lively, amusing, insightful way. That's not what happened. Eden is, indeed, a surprisingly boring film, one that is severely lacking in laughs. Attempted gags it has. Misfires it has. Laughs? Not so much. There are a couple of good visual gags, a few good lines scattered throughout, and one or two "incongruity" jokes that really ring. Otherwise, it's pretty arid. Worse, Pritikin seems to think that mockery in and of itself can carry a film for an hour and a half. Clearly inspired by some of Christopher Guest's work, Pritikin doesn't seem to have glommed on to the fact that Guest's films work because there's genuine wit behind their conception and because, however silly or ridiculous his characters may be, they're treated with affection. Eden's characters are treated with contempt, and indeed deserve nothing else. Unfortunately, contempt grows thin without a master providing insight and humor. The cast tries hard, but only Jane Lynch truly succeeds in rising above the material and turning the dross given her into something that's at least gold-plated.