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Christmas with the Kranks
2004 - PG - 98 Mins.
Director: Joe Roth
Producer: Chris Columbus
Written By: Chris Columbus
Starring: Tim Allen, Jaime Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd, Jake Busey, Cheech Marin
Review by: Joe Rickey
Official Site: www.sonypictures.com/movies/christmaswiththekranks/
   
Luther and Nora Krank (Tim Allen and Jaime Lee Curtis) decide to take Christmas off when their daughter decides to go away for the holidays working for the Peace Corps. Little do they know that their neighborhood would be so opposed to their decision? After all, going away for Christmas saves the Kranks untold amounts of money that would have been spent on gifts and other similar expenses. The head honcho (Dan Aykroyd) of the neighborhood sparks a street-wide retaliation as everyone from the carolers to the local kids begins a complicated "revenge" plot. Imagine everyone's surprise when the Kranks' daughter decides to bring her new boyfriend home in a last minute decision to come home for the holidays.

'Christmas with the Kranks' is one especially lame attempt at a family-oriented holiday comedy. Based on a rare non-legal novel by John Grisham, the Joe Roth-directed film is rather pathetically at low-brow comedy, involving people and objects falling down, and surprisingly mean-spirited gags not right for the tone of the film. Along with director Roth, writer Chris Columbus ('Home Alone', 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone') has fashioned a film so ineptly plotted so it not only ends up being full of dull as dirt slapstick, it is also grossly contradictory. The film begins as a combination of a screwball comedy and a dark comedy in the vein of 'Surviving Christmas' from earlier 2004. This had the potential to be a riff on the increasing commercialism of Christmas but it is unfortunately not long before this thread and the film's tone changes from night to day after it is discovered that the Kranks' daughter will be coming home. The film unwisely decides to become a saccharine, cloying, film about the true meaning of Christmas (like we have not seen this before) as Luther and Nora "learn" that it was completely wrong to even think about rebelling against tradition. The whole idea of this is so completely frustrating to behold because their plan actually makes more sense than it should if the film is going to work. As a result, all the terrorizing by way of the neighbors borders on the sickly sadistic.

The cast really doesn't do anything to rescue the material. Tim Allen plays basically the same character he played for years on "Home Improvement" and is anything but inspired here. He is much better though than Jamie Lee Curtis who is supremely annoying as Nora. She plays the role as a broad caricature, shrieking her every line like some sort of ghoul would do in one of those cheap horror films that permeate the shelves of your local rental chain. Aykroyd is also rather poor as his performance succumbs to the same sort of syndrome inflicting Curtis which has him overacting like there's no tomorrow.

Forget skipping Christmas. 'Christmas with the Kranks' will make you want to skip Christmas movies for years to come.
 
Movie Guru Rating
A train wreck.  So bad some may find it unintentionally entertaining.
  1 out of 5 stars

 
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