A Forgotten Ben Affleck Holiday Movie Is Trending Right Now

Ben Affleck's Surviving Christmas made it into Amazon's Top Ten, forcing everyone to ask, why?

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

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For some reason, maybe morbid curiosity, Ben Affleck’s Christmas movie Surviving Christmas made it into the Amazon Prime Top Ten, according to streaming tracking site FlixPatrol. The 2004 romantic comedy is not a cult classic, it has not undergone a re-examination by critics, and it is one of the worst films on the resumes of each of the leads. Given the thousands of hours of other shows and movies to watch on Amazon Prime, it is simply amazing that this forgotten film has even sniffed the top 10.

Starring Ben Affleck as horrible advertising executive Drew Latham, the movie follows Drew trying to pay the family living at his childhood home to pretend to be his family for Christmas. The unsuspecting family that accepts Drew’s offer of $250,000 is played by James Gandolfini (at the height of the Sopranos), Catherine O’Hara, Josh Zuckerman, and Christina Applegate. Of course, comedic hijinks and miscommunications ensue, with Once Upon A Time‘s Jennifer Morrison playing Drew’s materialistic ex-girlfriend getting involved, leading to a resolution about the true meaning of Christmas.

The studio behind the film, Dreamworks Pictures, had such little faith in the movie that it was held back one full year from 2003 to 2004, due to another Ben Affleck film, Paycheck, bombing in theatres. Someone knew just how bad the movie was, as a film called Surviving Christmas debuted on October 22, finishing up its theatrical run on November 23. Given that information, is it a surprise to learn that the film only made a world total of $15 million against a budget of $45 million?

ben affleck jennifer lopez
Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in 2003’s Gigli

Despite being the fourth worst Christmas movie of all time according to Rotten Tomatoes, Surviving Christmas is not Ben Affleck’s worst-reviewed movie, nor was it the worst movie released that year, an honor that went to Halle Berry’s Catwoman. Affleck was in the middle of a weak run of movies following the success of Good Will Hunting. 2003 alone featured Daredevil and one of the worst movies in the history of cinema, Gigli. In fact, a case can be made that the future Batman did not find his career footing until directing 2007’s Gone Baby Gone, which was a critical and financial success.

Ben Affleck’s Surviving Christmas co-stars also had better films to come; James Gandolfini went on, post-Sopranos, to star in Where the Wild Things Are and Zero Dark Thirty, while Catherine O’Hara eventually landed on Schitt’s Creek. Christina Applegate had a great career in comedy, with Anchorman, Bad Moms, and the currently airing Netflix dark comedy series Dead to Me. Even Jennifer Morrison, at the time just starting out in Hollywood, would soon become one of the leads on House, followed by the smash hit Once Upon A Time.

Surviving Christmas is most interesting as one of those strange projects with recognizable stars that had hits far, far away from the movie. Ben Affleck, while he’s no longer Batman, is still considered a great director, having placed the mistakes he made early in his career far behind him. Maybe the movie is trending just because James Gandolfini fans want to see his rare holiday film, as it is not trending because it’s worth watching.