The 2004 comedy “Surviving Christmas” from Dream Works was directed by Mike Mitchell with the screenplay written by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont based on a story by Jeffrey Ventimilia and Joshua Sternin. Starring: Ben Affleck, James Gandolfini, Christina Applegate, Catherine O’Hara, Josh Zuckerman, Bill Macy, Jennifer Morrison, Udo Kier, David Selby, Stephanie Faracy, Stephen Root, Sy Richardson, Tangie Ambrose, John ‘B.J.’ Bryant and Peter Jason.
Drew Latham (Ben Affleck) is a successful corporate executive who’s not too eager to spend another Christmas holiday alone with just his money to keep him company. Drew decides to go back in time and visit the house where he lived as a child.
Somehow in his mind Drew thinks that he can recapture his memories of holidays past if he is in the same place as before, but when he discovers that a new family is living in the house it looks like his dream is finished. Although Tom Valco (James Gandolfini) and his wife Christine (Catherine O’Hara) indulge his stroll down memory lane for a few minutes, his obnoxious behavior begins to surface and they ask him to leave.
Not to be denied Drew pleads with the Valco family to let him stay with them for the holidays, but the idea doesn’t appeal to them until Drew offers them $250,000 for their trouble. After a long and tedious meeting with Drew’s lawyer to work out the terms, Drew is delighted to be with a real family for Christmas.
But no sooner had the ink dried on the agreement than Drew begins to make use of its terms; the Valco family must pretend to be the Latham family and indulge every request that Drew makes in order to receive the cash. This means re-enacting some of the Latham family traditions, such as singing Christmas carols and the ritual of selecting the Christmas tree. None of these activities are very exciting to Tom and Christine Valco, but they suffer through each event, counting the minutes until Christmas is over.
Meanwhile Drew is having the time of his life and leaving chaos in his wake. But even though the Tom and Christine are willing to go along with Drew’s requests, when their oldest daughter Alicia (Christina Applegate) arrives home for the holidays, she refuses to comply with Drew’s requests and this may endanger the family receiving their well-deserved reward for the convenience of hosting an uninvited guest.