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CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS (PG) (2004)

Revolution Studios/Columbia Pictures

Official Site

Director: Joe Roth

Producers: Michael Barnathan, Chris Columbus, Mark Radcliffe

Written by: Chris Columbus; based on the novel Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

Cast: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Julie Gonzalo, Cheech Marin, Jake Busey, Caroline Rhea, Erik Per Sullivan, M. Emmet Walsh, Dan Aykroyd

Rating:


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

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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