Surviving Christmas

December 26, 2009 - A rich marketing whiz longs for a family Christmas in this 2004 comedy starring Ben Affleck, James Gandolfini and Catherine O'Hara. Christina Applegate also stars.

Affleck plays Drew Latham, who runs a successful marketing company in Chicago. He wants to take his girlfriend to Fiji for Christmas, but she's having none of it. She walks out when Drew refuses to go along with her plans to spend Christmas with her family. With the girlfriend gone, Drew tries to exorcise his anti-Christmas feelings by seeking out the home where he spent holidays as a child.

His journey takes him to the suburbs and the home of Tom and Christine Valco (Gandolfini and O'Hara). He offers to pay them lots of cash if they'll let him be part of the family for a few days – and celebrate Christmas the way HE wants. The Valcos take the money but find they dont really like taking direction from Drew. When their daughter Alicia (Applegate) arrives home for the holidays, she sees through Drew but sticks around anyway.

Overall review: ** Surprisingly, this is not Ben Affleck's worst movie. It's certainly not his best, but it's at least watchable. Affleck does OK as the fast-talking adman, but the rest of the cast really makes the most of their roles as the put-upon family. Applegate especially, I think, does a nice job of rounding out her character. Most of the fun, though, comes from seeing how everyone deals with the preposterous situation. Some of the best lines are delivered at the end by David Selby in his role as the father of Drew's ex-girlfriend.