Christmas With The Kranks, produced and written by repeat
offender, Chris Columbus, and based on a novel
by John Grisham (? that certainly surprised me),
is a schmaltzy, cheesy family Christmas movie. And what is up with
Hollywood releasing so many Christmas movies way before Christmastime?
Surviving Christmas was released before Halloween, and
now Christmas With The Kranks, definitely an X-mas “’tis
the season” type movie, comes out before Thanksgiving. Hollywood
logic puzzles me.
Tim Allen as Luther Krank does the usual cookie-cutter
Tim Taylor archetype. Luther and wife Nora (Curtis)
decide to boycott Christmas since their daughter, Blair (Gonzalo),
has been shipped off to Peru with the Peace Corps for a year. Luther
has figured out that they will save money by skipping Christmas
and planning a dream vacation cruise in the Caribbean. It’s
hard for me to buy into this premise; why is skipping Christmas
such a big deal? I just don’t understand why Luther Krank
finds it necessary to send rude memos to the office staff about
the decision, and I don’t understand why the community in
which the Kranks live turns into something equivalent to Salem in
the 1600s because a family decides to do something a little differently.
Granted I am Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas, but nevertheless,
the plot was too ridiculous for me to swallow.
During the course of this film, the narrative makes the audience
(AN: well at least me) go through great pains to learn that not
celebrating Christmas is a stupid idea and that you should treat
your fellow man better. As everyone who’s seen the trailer
knows, the daughter decides to come back for Christmas, with her
new fiancé in tow, and the community bands together to help
the Kranks correct their error.
This is all by-the-numbers and phoned-in dear readers; there are
no surprises in this film, except perhaps at the point where Jamie
Lee Curtis bares her stretch marks and all in a skimpy bikini. Very
bold Mrs. Guest, I salute you. And one wonders why the family never
bothered to contact their daughter to tell her about the cruise
and the plan for skipping the holidays. I realize that Peru is a
third-world country and everything, but I’m sure they have
some form of long distance communication there.
The cast is rounded out by the likes of Dan Aykroyd as
Vic Frohmeyer, the town’s unofficial dictator and M.
Emmet Walsh as Walt, the Kranks’ elderly neighbor
across the street who has an ailing wife suffering from cancer.
These are talented actors whose work I usually enjoy, but Aykroyd’s
best comedic days are clearly behind him, and bits such as belting
out “Jingle Bells” or getting his digits caught in a
moving car’s window incite little reaction. Cheech
Marin and Jake Busey also appear in the
film as inept police officers because, I guess, the movie needed
police officer characters. Too bad they aren’t funny.
Left in the end is another totally disposable family film that no
one will care about in the future. But remember, movie-goers: The
period between Christmas and New Year’s is not about hating
Christmas or the holiday season, just about hating poorly made movies
about the holidays. So Happy Thanksgiving.
—Jeffrey “The Vile One” Harris