‘Surviving Eden’


This witless satire dares to take on the culture of—get ready for this—reality TV! Arriving a stupefying five years out of date, Surviving Eden is a not particularly rigorous attempt at mockumentary, with a film crew following nerdy, overweight Dennis Flotchky (Michael Panes), a winning contestant on the titular Survivor-like program, through his sudden rise to fame. Playing out a tired celebrity-asshole trajectory after his victory, Dennis loses 200 pounds, goes from slob to tragically hip, and starts talking like Ali G before getting his comeuppance. A number of fine actors were somehow suckered into this mess, including Samantha Haske (Piggie) and Cheri Oteri as Dennis’s fellow contestants, a metalhead nun and a creepily opportunistic “canine euthanasia technician,” plus Peter Dinklage as Dennis’s roommate and Christopher Guest veteran Jane Lynch, who’s seen this sort of thing pulled off with much greater imagination and skill, playing a coke-addled producer. But in a movie this glibly cynical, it should come as no surprise that the most sympathetic character ends up being Dennis’s briefly glimpsed pet pig.