My friends tend to roll their eyes at me when I put my tree up and set my ringtone to Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" earlier and earlier every year. There are a lot of people who just feel that starting the festivities too soon for a holiday takes some of the magic out of it and therefore eliminates some of the excitement. So for all of those people, I offer a quick alternative to the dozens upon dozens of sappy, sentimental Christmas classics soon to fill the entries of this blog. This week-- the first official theme week for my 30 Days of Christmas experiment-- I present to you: Dysfunctional Family Christmases!
Nothing about 2004's Surviving Christmas quite screams holiday cheer. After all, the movie premiered in early November, to a throng of reporters wearing tank tops and flip flops! It was the quintessential "Now?" moment. The opening of the film features a montage of not-so-happy-go-lucky individuals baking gingerbread men with Xs for eyes, fighting with wrapping paper, and crying into their cocoa, setting up that this is not your typical Christmas film.
However, what follows is a (at times laugh out-loud) funny romp with an imperfect family...though what real family these days is perfect? Drew (Ben Affleck) is a rich advertising executive who wants nothing more than to take a superficial holiday trip to Fiji with his girlfriend (Jennifer Morrison), but she is bothered by the fact that he never talks about his family, and what kind of serious man who may want to settle down someday doesn't talk about his family?? So at her therapist's insistence, he visits his childhood home, and while there decides to make the family who currently resides inside an offer they can't refuse.
Drew draws up a contract that will grant the Valcos (with James Gandolfini and the amazing Catherine O'Hara at the head) $250,000 for allowing him to stay with them through Christmas Day. They agree to participate in last minute shopping, tree decorating, and even toboganning, but things get complicated when Drew learns his new "parents" might be splitting up and a "long lost sister" (Christina Applegate) shows up out of the blue.
Though Drew's efforts are often misguided, his heart is always in the right place, even when he hires a local actor to play his "Doo-Da," forces the family to throw a last minute dinner for his girlfriend and her parents, and twists a little girl's perfect Christmas moment into something ostentatious and ridiculous. And Affleck's wide-eyes, cheeky grin, and pure enthusiasm throughout the film only serves to add to get viewers into the holiday spirit!
Surviving Christmas may not have been very well received upon its release, but it has become a hidden gem amongst Christmas enthusiasts!