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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Drew Latham (Ben Affleck) is a rich ad man. However, he appears to have no immediate family and has never invited girlfriend Missy to visit with them, not even on Christmas. When Drew suggests to Missy that they jet to a warmer climate for the holidays, she severs their relationship. Ben, left alone, contemplates his situation. He can either spend Christmas watching television or he can travel to his childhood home and revisit some memories.
When he arrives on the new owners' doorstep, Ben gets the brilliant idea of asking them if he can hang with them for the holidays. Fat chance, without a little palm greasing. The Valcos (Catherine O'Hara and James Gandolfini) are therefore bribed to make the holidays special for Ben. Their beautiful daughter, Alicia (Christina Applegate) and son Brian do their best as well. Will it really be a Merry Christmas, the monetary way?
Ben Affleck is just such an attractive and charming star that he manages to pull this one off, even with some script weaknesses. O'Hara, Gandolfini, and Applegate, too, are all deft with comedy and they add to the film's enjoyment. Yes, it may be that the movie tries too much to be a black comedy and a sweet comedy at the same time. This aside, it has some funny things to say about the holidays, from gingerbread men with frowns to the ritual of singing off key while decorating the Christmas tree. The feel-good ending is heartfelt. Affleck fans, of which there are many, MUST see this film. Others who just want to tickle their funny bone, in between bouts of shopping, would enjoy this slight but sweet film.
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