• GelNerd

Xmas: 'Christmas With The Kranks' (2004) Dir. Joe Roth

Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd, Julie Gonzalo, M. Emmet Walsh, Elizabeth Franz, Erik Per Sullivan, Cheech Marin, Jake Busey, Austin Pendleton, Tom Poston and René Lavan


Another mad-cap, maniacal family festive season is on the cards when a well-to-do couple decide to shake things up and simply skip Christmas...

When Blair Krank (Gonzalo) leaves for Peru after Thanksgiving, her parents Luther (Allen) and Nora (Curtis) agree to invest the thousands of dollars they usually spend to fund a luxury cruise; skipping Christmas.

They become frowned upon by their neighbours, none more so than Vic Frohmeyer (Aykroyd), who takes charge in rallying everyone to decorate their houses. Luther stands his ground after coming under pressure from the community, hoping for him to reconsider and keep the festive spirit alive.

But on Christmas Eve, Blair calls to reveal she is engaged and en-route home with her new fiancé for Christmas. Nora drops the cruise and rallies around for last-minute decorations, food and gifts to welcome her daughter home, but Luther will face more of a battle to convince others to help him...

Probably one of the few Christmas films that I think is ok every year before watching, but when I actually DO watch it I remember how poor it really is on the surface. It’s got everything you need for a basic, run-of-the-mill madcap seasonal film; the festive community, chaotic shopping sprees, decoration disasters, a picture-perfect happy ending with cranky neighbours and bitter families alongside slapstick chaos…but something about this film is done in a way that is more irritating and drab than others.

Most of the film spends time making you resent the community the Kranks life in, as the basis of the story revolves around how two parents, parted from their grown-up daughter, want to go away on a cruise for Christmas. Sounds nice. BUT we are introduced to cantankerous and creepy, stalker-ish neighbours, headed by a silly and wasted Dan Aykroyd, who spend a good portion of the time bullying, moaning and threatening the Kranks to make them stay around and decorate their home.

Basically, pushing them into something they have no right to participate in. The Kranks are a very irritating couple from the outset – frumpy Jamie Lee Curtis has two good assets in front of her but comes across as very screechy and very unstable. Tim Allen, who increasingly comes over like he is the King of Christmas Comedy (after his ‘Santa Clause Trilogy’), gurns, goofs and over-acts his way through this in a series of un-funny set pieces, dialogue exchanges and slapstick.

With an irritating couple to start with, mixed with a creepy community, this doesn’t give you anything other than maybe a few chuckles as the mad-cap dash to escape Christmas ensues (it’s been done better), and then the finale of the film has it all reversed for a mad-cap dash to build Christmas (it’s been done better).

Very flat supporting characters, and very clichéd (inept cops, the grumpy old neighbour, fussy shoppers, cheeky children) give you something that is very unmemorable and rather unfunny.

Unless you like your Christmas films over-acted, hammy and very tacky, there is no redeeming heart or true humour to proceedings.

'Christmas With The Kranks' is a Revolution Studios / 1492 Pictures / Columbia Pictures production

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