Christmas Movies: Surviving Christmas (2004)

2.5/5* | Shiv’s Show | Siobhan Divers

Dir: Mike Mitchell

91 mins

Starring: Ben Affleck, James Gandolfini, Christina Applegate, Catherine O’Hara

While Surviving Christmas has a talented cast, its attempts at humour ultimately fall flat and the story is all quite predictable. It’s still cute though…

Ben Affleck stars as over-the-top, wealthy advertising executive Drew Latham. He seems to have it all – a high-paying job, a ‘girlfriend’ and a nice apartment. However, he realises that he is missing something – he doesn’t have anyone to spend Christmas with.

He then makes it his goal to recapture the Christmases of his childhood.

A nice idea if he had a family to go home to, Latham lives alone, is not in contact with any of his family members and he has also aggravated his only means of ‘family’ – the girl that he is dating.

Latham then decides to visit his childhood home which is now occupied by a new family. He offers Tom Valco (James Gandolfini) one of the new owners of the house, $250,000 to join the family in their home during the lead up to Christmas and masquerade as one of them.

A humorous idea, the film spreads itself too thin, attempting drama, comedy and emotion, ultimately failing at all three as a result of this.

The film’s main issue however is that the development of all characters is left to the ending by which point it’s too late – if the real reason for Drew’s visit was revealed earlier or he was given a slightly different personality or even some nicer character traits, viewers would sympathise with him more and ultimately enjoy the film more.

Drew’s new ‘mom’ (Catherine O’Hara) does not approve of the situation at first however soon gets into the swing of things when more money is offered. Drew’s ‘brother’ Brian (Josh Zuckerman) and his ‘sister’ Alicia (Christina Applegate) are also unimpressed with the arrangement. In particularly, Alicia is the least enthusiastic member of the family however in the Christmas spirit, loosens up a little towards the third act allowing for a happy ending.

People may remember Catherine O’Hara from classic Christmas film Home Alone (1990) – Catherine plays Kate McAllister in both the first Home Alone (1990) and second Home Alone: Lost in New York (1992). She’s underused in Surviving Christmas though, and given her track record of great performances, this is a shame.

Cute but predictable, Surviving Christmas isn’t the best Christmas film but as one of the lesser known ones, it might be worth a watch…

If you liked this, please read, like and comment on my other reviews here.

I also have a Letterboxd account where I post some short reviews of the most recent films I’ve seen.

And don’t forget to follow my Twitter and Instagram




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s