It's the Christmas season. 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 with Missy breaking up with him in the process, Drew, in going through some self-therapy, decides what he really needs is to relive the memorable Christmases from his childhood, which includes spending time with his parents and younger brother. As that is not possible, he decides to rent a family, namely ones he's never met before, the Valcos - husband and wife Tom and Christine and their teenaged son Brian - who now live in Drew's childhood home in suburban Chicago. Tom initially wants nothing to do with Drew until an exorbitant sum of money is involved, all written in a contract which expires at the end of Christmas day. What Drew is initially unaware of, or what he chooses to remain ignorant about, is that the Valcos are going ...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 »
Despite the fact that Drew says his father left his mother when he is four years old, and that she worked as a waitress at a diner to support them, it seems that Drew and his mother continued to live in the fairly large house depicted in the film, until he was much older. 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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What would you expect from a film titled 'Surviving Christmas'and presented as 'festive fun', something like Ghandi or English patient? There are lots of things I love about this film, it's funny, it is very well cast and it is superbly written. I came to the film as a Kaplan/Elfort fan but was dubious when I read the plot, it sounded ridiculous. But the film doesn't come across like that because Affleck (as Drew Latham) plays his part perfectly, one minute a child-like adult, the next a mature man who realises he has gained everything in life apart from what he really wants. In fact we see Latham grow up in this film, when he encounters the problems of those he envies and realises that their lives are not so good, he sees that his own lot is not so bad.
This film has fewer weak or dud scenes than many other comedies I have seen. Comedy is so much harder than any other type of drama, it either works or it doesn't and very few comedy writers get it correct every time.I particularly loved the drama scene, where the family take to reading parts written by Latham . The pleasure is in the reaction of Tom Valco (James Gandolfini) and the comments of Brian Valco (Josh Zuckerman). It is the dilemma of the greedy Tom Valco who has to bite his tongue, wear silly hats or sing to the Christmas tree in order to earn the prize money that keeps the film moving along well.
The addition of daughter Alicia (Christina Applegate) into the story brings a delightful romantic angle, and why not in a Christmas film? Of course its corny and contrived; he's rich and handsome, she's beautiful and single, and so inevitably her and Afflect end up falling over together in the snow and finding themselves face to face. Great! One thing I would have liked was more use of festive music to boost the atmosphere but I can't really complain. I got what I wanted.
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