Ok, let’s go back in time for a bit. It’s 2004. Ben and I have been through so much at this point. He was coming off of such films as Paycheck, Sum of All Fears and Gigli. Its sad, but I felt us growing apart. The bromance was fading. The man crush was dying. Things were getting dark folks. We weren't doing our regular movie nights like before and when we did it had that “been there done that feel”. BUT WAIT!!! What does he go and do??!? Another Christmas flick. Not an action Christmas classic like Reindeer Games. No, he’s going big time. It’s FAMILY Christmas classic time. That my friends is how Surviving Christmas came to be.
Affleck plays Drew Latham, a successful marketing exec that has one problem for the holidays. No family or friends to spend it with. He has a plan though. Drew buys him and his girlfriend Missy (Jennifer Morrison) tickets to Fiji for the holidays. What does this bitch do? She complains that Christmas is “the family holiday” and wants to spend it with her family. (I’d go with you Ben. TAKE ME!!) Missy takes things a step further and calls him out for never introducing her to his family. You see where this is going. Queue the big break up and Drew is now really left alone for Christmas.
The next scene is one of my favorites. Desperate for company Drew gets on the horn and starts calling just about everyone he knows to try to find a place to crash for Christmas. It has been stated through interviews that Surviving Christmas was shot without a completed script and as a result, most of the film was improvised. You can tell they had fun with this one. The montage of phone calls is hilarious. They range from Drew insulting then accepting different religions, persuading people to ditch their families and even begging.
Drew then tracks down Missy’s shrink (Stephen Root) at an airport and begs for help. The doctor tells him to write all his childhood grievances down on paper, go to a place he remembers from his childhood and then burn the paper. Yeah, that will solve all his problems. This brings Drew to his childhood home which is now occupied by the Valco family. Thinking Drew is going to burn the house down, the father Tom Valco (James Gandolfini) whacks the shit out of him with a shovel.
Please!!! Any where but the face.
So, with Drew knocked cold the family brings him in. When he wakes up he explains his problem and proceeds to offer the family $250,000 to buy them for the holidays. (You can stay with me for free Ben…FOR FREE!!) Of course they agree and from here the family is put into so many ridiculous situations to help Drew relive most of his childhood memories - including some caroling around their Christmas tree.
What we learn is that Tom and Christine Valco (Catherine O’Hara) are contemplating divorce and are just doing this for the money. You see where this is going, right? Through the power of Affleck they find love again and then they teach Drew the true meaning of Christmas. Awwwwwww! Oh, Drew ends up getting with their daughter (Christina Applegate). Come on, you had to know Affleck was going to “sleigh” some pussy in this movie.
Come on Kelly Bundy, you know you want it.
Surviving Christmas was released in theaters on October 22, 2004 and did so “WELL” at the box office that it was out on DVD by December 21 of that same year. Yeah, you know what I got in my stocking that year? Yes, this film is widely panned, but with Affleck’s over the top demeanor and a supporting cast that plays it so deadpanned it really is hard for me to hate it.
Trust me, adding some Affleck into your holiday season will make any Yule log burn a bit brighter.
Jeff - http://letterboxd.com/jeffmhady/