An uptight, conservative businesswoman accompanies her boyfriend to his eccentric and outgoing family's annual Christmas celebration and finds that she's a fish out of water in their free-spirited way of life.
Sarah Jessica Parker,
Wealthy Chicago ad executive Drew Latham has long avoided the family traditions of Christmas, but has dreaded being alone on the actual day. So when his tropical Christmas vacation with girlfriend Missy Vangilder falls through and Missy breaks up with him in the process, a self-therapy session leads Drew to decide to relive his best childhood Christmases. With his loved ones long-gone, he decides to rent a family: the Valcos, the current owners of his childhood home in suburban Chicago. Tom Valco wants nothing to do with Drew until an exorbitant amount of money is involved; they draw up a contract which expires at the end of Christmas night. What Drew doesn't (or refuses to) realize is that the Valcos are having their own problems, which his presence exacerbates. Can the Valcos endure their unexpected guest? If they can, will the money solve their problems? Meanwhile, will Drew come to realize what he wants in life and how to achieve it?Written by
The production was shot without a completed script. As a result, there were many delays and arguments over what to shoot. James Gandolfini admitted, in a behind the scenes interview, that most of the film was "improvised". See more »
On Christmas eve Alicia's hair changes frequently from wavy to curly as the night progresses. It seems to get curlier as it gets later. See more »
Folks, my firm's done a tremendous amount of marketing research and we've discovered two critical things, one; most Americans feel that Christmas is a time for family. Two; most Americans feel that in order to stand being around their family, for even one or two days, they need to swill as much alcohol as humanly possible.
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A ridiculous and perverse premise has somehow made its way onto cinema screens this Christmas. Just like Christmas With The Kranks and The Polar Express, Surviving Christmas winds towards a festive moral that aims to fill the audience with yuletide cheer. The execution of said moral in this particular seasonal release is highly questionnaire but unmistakably funny.
Surviving Christmas has been slammed by the critics remorselessly. Nobody seems to have liked this twisted retelling of the story of Scrooge, and I believe I have found the answer: nobody likes Ben Affleck.
Affleck plays a rich ad executive who pays a dysfunctional family to take him in and make Christmas just how it was when he was a child. This seriously strange idea could, in the right hands, been a gross out smash hit in the Farrely brothers style. Instead, Mike Mitchell decides to take the whole thing a little too seriously and what results is a comedy that is uncomfortable with itself. As a result the actors are left unsure whether to play their characters straight or exaggerated. This can be all be blamed on the script, or lack thereof. Filming took place without a finished draft, and thus, parts of the film were improvised and unfunny material remains in the final cut.
Nevertheless, there are many positive attributes to this genre subverting film. James Gandolfini is very entertaining as the constantly resentful Tom Valco whose only vice, in true Christmas spirit, is money.
Ben Affleck style in comedic roles is disliked by many, but his specific brand of humour is allowed to thrive in this unnatural plot and situation driven comedy. The character of the son (Josh Zuckerman) is underdeveloped, as is the family's relationship with its neighbours, but again the unfinished script can be held accountable.
Surviving Christmas is by no means a great film, but it is certainly not as bad as it has been labelled. Unfortunately, most won't get a chance to decide for themselves until this film is released on DVD as it was grossly under marketed in the UK. An offbeat comedy and a genuine step forward for the Scrooge remakes that when given the chance to shine in its own right, works quite well.
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