Release Date: November 24, 2004
Runtime: 99 minutes
Studio: Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Director: Joe Roth
Cast: Tim Allen; Jamie Lee Curtis; Dan Aykroyd; Cheech Marin; Jake Busey
This is a stunningly awful film. I’ll admit, I came late, about 15-20 minutes, into this movie, but, quite honestly, I’m glad that I did. For I’d rather jump off of a cliff than listen to one second more of the ear-splitting shrieking and inane dialogue that run rampant in this film. I didn’t care about any of the characters; in fact, I disliked most of them. Most of all, I didn’t like the two main characters, Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) Krank. They are stupid people, and I have no tolerance for stupid people, real or fictional. They are not even logical and seem devoid of rational thought.
Here’s the setup: Luther and Nora are spending their first Christmas alone together; their daughter, Blair (Julie Gonzalo, who could be Denise Richard’s younger sister) having been sent to Peru as part of the Peace Corps. Luther decides that rather than spend a ton of money on gifts, he’d rather spend much less money and take a cruise to the Caribbean, just he and the wife. Sounds reasonable. But then, just mere hours before the Kranks are due to leave for the airport, natch, Blair phones and, surprise, she’s coming home for the holidays. Better yet, she’s bringing her hot, new Peruvian fiancé. Activate crisis mode.
Now Krank, who’s clearly the Scrooge character of the neighborhood, needs the assistance of the neighborhood to throw together a last minute Christmas party, string up decorations, and generally make things as tacky as possible before Blair gets home. What about the plans that each individual household had for Christmas? Do they just abandon their lives and their plans, all because Dan Aykroyd, as the neighborhood leader, gives them some corny “the neighborhood sticks together” speech? (Oh, I forgot to mention the ludicrous contest that the neighborhood holds every year, which involves decorating a huge Frosty the Snowman perched on your rooftop. Please help me!) What if someone would have said, “Screw him! He’s been nothing but an insensitive jerk to me and I’ll be damned if l am going to give up my holiday plans just to help him make a nice holiday for his family. Let him get himself out of his own mess.” Well, this neighborhood posse, the type of people to go to lengths nothing short of harassment just to ensure that you will stick a damn Frosty on your roof, probably would have run them out of town.
I suppose that this is trying to be a Christmas movie with an edge, but it fails miserably. There is nothing edgy about any of this. Most of the humor relies on unsuccessful slapstick elements like people slipping and sliding and falling down on a lake of ice. Why didn’t the Kranks simply explain to their daughter, who seems like a perfectly levelheaded girl, that Mommy and Daddy were thinking that since you were in Peru, maybe they’d take a vacation, just as a couple, this Christmas. That’s not unreasonable, in my opinion. Idiots. They deserve time together, especially if she’s thousands of miles away. But no. They immediately jump to the wimpiest (not to mention, irrational) of conclusions: they must pull their tail between their legs and beg the neighborhood to help them make it look as if everything’s normal and running as usual. It’s insipid. The Kranks make no effort to behave as normal people would behave if given these circumstances. Worst of all, the film tries to pass itself off as a message movie, which is the most offensive thing of all. What’s the message? Don’t go against the crowd? Never take time for yourself? Buy as much crap as possible on “holidays” (I say “holidays” because Christmas just serves the events of the plot. The holiday Blair is coming home for could just as easily have been Thanksgiving. Or Purim, for that matter). Is this supposed to be a fable of some sort? Maybe it read better in John Grisham’s novel. Whatever the case, the movie’s terrible and there’s no reason to see it.