Surviving Christmas is # 91 on the Rotten Tomatoes 100 worst films. I think it is a very charming but bizarre Christmas movie: doomed to be a straight to video because as a Christmas movie Surviving Christmas has some very dark moments, particularly in the opening titles where Andy Williams sings "It's the most wonderful time of the year", you see shots of Christmas opulence, and a couple of people committing suicide. This could also have been a great Christmas movie for the scrooge in the family except that halfway through the dark tone of the story is taken over by the usual Christmas feel good stuff. All in all, though, Surviving Christmas is an entertaining, watchable movie with good performances by Ben Affleck, James Gandolfini (of The Sopranos), Christina Applegate (Anchorman), and Catherine O'Hara (A Mighty Wind).
The story is simple. Successful advertising genius Ben Affleck ends up renting the people who live in his former house, the Valcos, to be his family for Christmas. Of course, the Valcos are not quite what they seem and Affleck's presence only exacerbates the conflicts within that family to the point everything blows up.
Christina Applegate is very good in the role of the down to earth Valco daughter with whom Affleck falls in love. This is also where Surviving Christmas loses some of its darker charm and goes for the traditional boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and boy chases after girl plot line. The dark and rather manic Drew Latham (Ben Affleck) becomes just another poor sob at Christmas time.
Although Surviving Christmas had the elements to be a great dark Christmas movie, the sugary stuff at the end just kind of ruins it for the pro-Grinch crowd. Still, this is a very watchable movie; the kind you pick up as a second choice at the video store. Not memorable but entertaining