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Surviving Christmas (2004)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Romance | 22 October 2004 (USA)
Trailer
0:31 | Trailer
A lonely, obnoxious young millionaire pays a family to spend Christmas with him.

Director:

Mike Mitchell

Writers:

Deborah Kaplan (story), Harry Elfont (story) | 4 more credits »
2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Affleck ... Drew Latham
James Gandolfini ... Tom Valco
Christina Applegate ... Alicia Valco
Catherine O'Hara ... Christine Valco
Josh Zuckerman ... Brian Valco
Bill Macy ... Doo-Dah
Jennifer Morrison ... Missy Vangilder
Udo Kier ... Heinrich
David Selby ... Horace Vangilder
Stephanie Faracy ... Letitia Vangilder
Stephen Root ... Dr. Freeman
Sy Richardson ... Doo-Dah Understudy
Tangie Ambrose ... Kathryn
John 'B.J.' Bryant John 'B.J.' Bryant ... Cabbie (as John BJ Bryant)
Peter Jason ... Suit
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Storyline

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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

This year, Christmas comes early. Really early. Like... October 22nd. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual content, language and a brief drug reference | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

DreamWorks [United States]

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

22 October 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Surviving Christmas See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$45,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,441,356, 24 October 2004

Gross USA:

$11,663,156

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$14,614,892
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[first lines]
Drew Latham: 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.
See more »

Connections

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 WORST Holiday Cash Grab Movies (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Jingle Bell Rock
Written by Joe Beal & Jim Boothe
Performed by Chet Atkins
Courtesy of RCA Nashville
Under license from BMG Film & TV Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Subvert that genre!
23 December 2004 | by the_usual_suspectSee all my reviews

Surviving Christmas

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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