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Surviving Christmas (2004)

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A lonely, obnoxious young millionaire pays a family to spend Christmas with him.


Mike Mitchell


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





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


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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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


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 »


Official Sites:

DreamWorks [United States]




English | Spanish

Release Date:

22 October 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sobrevivendo ao Natal See more »


Box Office


$45,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,441,356, 24 October 2004, Wide Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


John Wight, who was Ben Affleck's stand-in , wrote a devastating depiction of what the filming was like in his book "Dreams that Die: Misadventures in Hollywood". 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 »


[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.
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Referenced in The DiCaprio Code (2006) See more »


Happy Holidays (Beef Wellington Remix)
Written by Irving Berlin
Performed by Bing Crosby
Original recording licensed from Star Line Productions
Courtesy of Six Degrees Records
Under license from Rock River Communications
By Arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group
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User Reviews

Way better than I'd heard
21 December 2006 | by on_the_canSee all my reviews

When this movie first came out I wanted to see but never did. It left the theaters in a flash, which wasn't surprising considering this was right during the whole Bennifer fiasco. Ben was way too over exposed at the time, and Gigli certainly didn't help matters...I don't think it mattered what Ben Afleck did during that time, the critics would have hated it and the movie goers wouldn't give it a chance...knowing all that I was still determined to give it a chance but never really came across it. It came to DVD in the middle of the summer when I had no interest in a Christmas movie...but finally just saw it on TV and here's what I thought... It was funny! The movie's definitely not perfect...and I would agree that Afleck seems kinda off his stick for a good chunk of the movie...in the interest of suspension of disbelief though I'll hearken' that too an exaggerated eccentric millionaire and the fact that he's hit on the head with a shovel near the beginning of the movie. Put aside the likelihood of all this stuff and remember this is a comedy that's not meant to be taken too seriously. All the actors do their part well...and I was glad to see Catherine O'Hara in a big role, I've been a fan since SCTV but she hasn't had many chances to do her thing. O'Hara and Gandolfini make some funny moments just with their expressions, while Affleck makes a fool of himself at almost every turn...which is totally intentional. Christina Appelgate is actually the voice of reason during the whole thing...a far cry from some of her other comedy roles, but she still holds her own as the sharp love interest. The movie has a certain dark, cynical feeling to which I've always liked, dark comedies always seem a little more real...and maybe that's why I took to it. My rating now is only six...but if it's on again next Christmas I'll probably watch it and I'll probably like a little more...than the year after that who knows. It's a shame that an actor's bad press can sink any chance his movie's have for success...there's no Oscar material here but a holiday movie without big family feasts or magic reindeer should have done pretty well in theaters. It's no National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation...but if you like that kinda humor you'll at least find a few chuckles here...and I guarantee it'll grow on you.

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