What would you expect from a film titled 'Surviving Christmas'and presented as 'festive fun', something like Ghandi or English patient? There are lots of things I love about this film, it's funny, it is very well cast and it is superbly written. I came to the film as a Kaplan/Elfort fan but was dubious when I read the plot, it sounded ridiculous. But the film doesn't come across like that because Affleck (as Drew Latham) plays his part perfectly, one minute a child-like adult, the next a mature man who realises he has gained everything in life apart from what he really wants. In fact we see Latham grow up in this film, when he encounters the problems of those he envies and realises that their lives are not so good, he sees that his own lot is not so bad.
This film has fewer weak or dud scenes than many other comedies I have seen. Comedy is so much harder than any other type of drama, it either works or it doesn't and very few comedy writers get it correct every time.I particularly loved the drama scene, where the family take to reading parts written by Latham . The pleasure is in the reaction of Tom Valco (James Gandolfini) and the comments of Brian Valco (Josh Zuckerman). It is the dilemma of the greedy Tom Valco who has to bite his tongue, wear silly hats or sing to the Christmas tree in order to earn the prize money that keeps the film moving along well.
The addition of daughter Alicia (Christina Applegate) into the story brings a delightful romantic angle, and why not in a Christmas film? Of course its corny and contrived; he's rich and handsome, she's beautiful and single, and so inevitably her and Afflect end up falling over together in the snow and finding themselves face to face. Great! One thing I would have liked was more use of festive music to boost the atmosphere but I can't really complain. I got what I wanted.