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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 7.95%
Just Average: 4.55%
Pretty Crappy: 14.77%

7 reviews, 46 user ratings

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Christmas with the Kranks
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by Peter Sobczynski

"The sole virtue is that it isn't as bad as 'Surviving Christmas'"
2 stars

Towards the end of “Christmas With the Kranks”, there is one of those scenes that critics love to look for in a film-a moment that so perfectly encapsulates all the virtues or flaws in the movie at hand that all they have to do is simply describe it and their work is essentially done. The moment is question involves a couple of police officers who have dispatched to an airport to pick up the daughter of the main characters and her Peruvian fiancee, a lad named Enrique. Apparently, the cops have never heard of the name before and when they hold up the piece of cardboard that announces who they are looking for, the name reads “N. Ricky”. On the surface, that might not seem like anything more than a standard-issue dumb-cop joke-that is, until you realize that one of the cops in question is played by Cheech Marin, a man whom you would think not be unfamiliar with the spelling of a name like “Enrique”. The willingness of the scene to sacrifice any shred of logic or believability in order to make a joke that isn’t especially funny in the first place pretty much sums up all of the flaws of this witless, cloying holiday craptacular, one whose sole virtue, as far as I can see, is that it isn’t quite as awful as “Surviving Christmas”. (Of course, this is like saying that having one toe severed in a gardening accident is better than losing two, but I digress.)

As you have no doubt gleaned from the incessant commercials and trailers, Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis star as Luther and Nora Krank, a suburban couple who, as the film opens, have just seen their only child (Julie Gonzalo) off on a Peace Corps hitch in Peru. In order to stave off the potential for a depressing holiday without the kid, Luther proposes that he and Nora skip the holiday-no lights, no tree, no nothing-and use the money they would have spent towards a trip to the Caribbean. Personally, this sounds like a fine idea and I suspect that at least a few of you out there may feel the same way. Unfortunately, the Kranks have the grave misfortune to live in one of those sitcom-type neighborhoods where everyone knows everyone else’s business and the idea of a house on the block not draining power with an outdoor display with the wattage, if not the good taste, of the Vegas strip is anathema. Before long, the neighbors, led by block captain Dan Aykroyd, are putting the Kranks under siege with carolers and harassing demands that they put their giant Frosty statue atop their roof. (Actually, they seem more upset by the fact that since the Kranks won’t be having their annual Christmas Eve party, they might actually have to do things for themselves for one year.)

Now if “Christmas With the Kranks” had used this plot in order to satirize the behavior of the neighbors-who claim that they are only thinking of “the kids”, but who seem more inspired by having the gaudiest street in town-it might have actually been amusing; who among us hasn’t driven through a gaudily decorated subdivision and silently cheered the few holdouts? For all I know, that may have been the attitude of the John Grisham novel that inspired it-sadly, there is no amount of money that could induce me to actually read it to find out as the notion of combining holiday treacle and the unspeakable prose stylings of Grisham is as convincing an argument for the advantages of adult illiteracy as I can imagine. However, screenwriter Chris Columbus has chosen to reuse the formula that worked for him when he directed the “Home Alone” movies; ham-fisted slapstick (such as Allen falling off a roof and Curtis stumbling through a parking lot in pursuit of a ham), even more ham-fisted sentiment (an elderly neighbor dying of cancer and the whole neighborhood banding together behind the Kranks when the thoughtless daughter decides to come home for Christmas after all) and a sadistic third act where a burglar is brought in from left field in order to get his head caved in just like Joe Pesci. As a result, even the most indulgent audiences for holiday piffle are likely to find this film more than a bit familiar.

Once again, no one has bothered to inform Tim Allen that the grunting, mugging and one-note performance style that served him well on television does not translate well to the big screen, where a little more subtlety and nuance is required-even in something as silly as this. Curtis is one of the few actresses working today who is perfectly comfortable with both character-based comedy and slapstick (I still think she deserved an Oscar nomination last year for her work in “Freaky Friday”), but she is given nothing to do here; her big comic moment is being caught in a tanning salon by the local priest and half her neighbors while wearing a bikini. Everyone else in the cast (even normally reliable people like Aykroyd, Marin and M. Emmet Walsh) has apparently been instructed by director Joe Roth to be as broad and schticky as possible and they have responded in kind.

“Christmas With the Kranks” (even the title has a whiff of desperation) feels as if it was made for one reason-a movie with the most tangential connection to the Yuletide season (including the likes of “Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2”) is assured of a healthy video/television afterlife every December for years to come. No doubt, this will make some money (since, judging by the sheer ugliness of the film itself, precious little was spent on the actual production) for Grisham, Roth, Columbus and the rest. I can only presume that they will take all that money and spend it solely on festivities for the neighbors. You’ll forgive me, though, if I don’t hold my breath.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11183&reviewer=389
originally posted: 11/23/04 23:59:56
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User Comments

12/23/13 Michelle O Tim is a TOOL & Jamie is a LUG NUT 2 stars
10/22/09 Rachel Not the best comedy, but it definitely has some parts that make you laugh. 4 stars
10/21/08 Shaun Wallner Not all that funny. 1 stars
9/10/07 Daren As a sub I had to show this movie to several classes to pass time. I wanted to kill myself. 2 stars
2/03/07 X To quote the bloopers guy on Robot Chicken: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! 1 stars
1/27/07 William Goss To quote Jamie Lee: "Oh, dear God, this should be outlawed." Hypocritical and humor-free. 1 stars
1/06/07 Frank Rountree OK, but only rent it and watch it once. Tim Allen is good 3 stars
1/02/07 Ken Cain Pretty poor. Don't buy it. 2 stars
11/27/06 MickT anti-fascist and missunderstood,just like Starship Troopers. 3 stars
6/29/06 Ryan_A Even an OK cast can't save a terrible script and bad direction. Allen's typically awful. 1 stars
5/21/06 Diane P just okay for me the book was much better my daughter liked it she's 10 3 stars
4/11/06 Justin A pretty decent Christmas movie. Love Jamie & Tim! 4 stars
3/31/06 mike An Incredibly annoying movie. Just dumb. Only worse movie is cry wolf! 1 stars
1/06/06 JM Synth Fairly terrible, but it did have one of the better casts to hit the big screen in a while 2 stars
12/29/05 tony Its not Christmas Vacation and thats all im going to say 1 stars
12/26/05 Thelma G. calling this abomination crap is an insult to crap 1 stars
11/13/05 Joe Smaltz Really sucks, couldn't finnish it! 1 stars
11/11/05 tatum The Kranks should have spent the Xmas money on a funny script 1 stars
11/05/05 NoVaDJ I would have rather watched an old man write his name in excrement on a wall than this movi 1 stars
7/27/05 ellie it wasn't half bad 4 stars
6/14/05 Quigley quite possibly the worst movie ever to ugli-fy the theater screen 1 stars
5/12/05 Jennifer Regan Nice family movie, and very entertaining! 4 stars
4/28/05 Valerie Furr Kept me laughing and very enjoyable movie. 4 stars
4/23/05 Heather Tarlecky I thought it was worth seeing 4 stars
4/11/05 Ann Lemire Not Great 3 stars
4/09/05 Vince worst movie I've ever seen in theaters 1 stars
3/30/05 Katherine Frazier way too predictable 2 stars
3/24/05 craig varney terrible nonesense 1 stars
2/22/05 re morgan kill me once i finish my popcorn! 1 stars
1/30/05 Katherine Frazier Really boring movie 1 stars
1/17/05 Jeff Anderson WORTHLESS JUNK! If this is the way Xmas is really like in any known universe, WE'RE SCREWED 1 stars
12/29/04 Katie Evridge Entertaining film. Worth seeing if you need something to do for a few hours. 4 stars
12/28/04 Tom Ciorciari Inexcusable crap from those who really shold know better 1 stars
12/17/04 Desperado hey hayfever, it was there because Bush is an ignorant dipshit, so there 1 stars
12/12/04 hayfever Why the Bush-bashing in the Kyle review? That was unneeded. 1 stars
12/10/04 the Grinch Would you put Tim Allen in YOUR movie? 2 stars
12/08/04 lawhog44 Curtis/Aykroyd fans, you'll be a lot happier rewatching Trading Places. PS: Book sucks, too 1 stars
12/04/04 Tmccormick oh my god im going to shoot myself that was so bad 1 stars
11/27/04 KCobain Train wreck 1 stars
11/27/04 Steve Hazelwood Oh my dear lord...Did I pay money for that? 1 stars
11/26/04 Norman Kozlarek Trailer was sooo bad it pissed me off 1 stars
11/26/04 Naka No. Absolutely not. Never. Jesus. 1 stars
11/25/04 Whoop Whoop Sensationally awful. Enough to ensure Allen never acts again. 1 stars
11/24/04 Caiphn 'Hilarious and Fun'? Are you retarded? You are! 2 stars
11/24/04 Kristina Williams Jamie Lee Cutis must RETIRE. NOW. 1 stars
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  24-Nov-2004 (PG)
  DVD: 08-Nov-2005



Directed by
  Joe Roth

Written by
  Chris Columbus

  Tim Allen
  Jamie Lee Curtis
  Dan Aykroyd
  Erik Per Sullivan
  Cheech Marin
  Jake Busey

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