CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS: DVD
Luther Krank (Tim Allen) is fed up with the costs associated with Christmas and decides to skip it, planning instead a Caribbean cruise holiday with his wife Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis). The decision is made easier by their daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo) being sent to Peru for Christmas by the Peace Corps. Luther manages to convince Nora to leave snowy Chicago and go on the sunny cruise, but when he refuses to buy a Christmas tree from the scouts, contribute to the police community fund or to put his illuminated frosted snowman on the roof like everyone else in the street, the neighbours are aghast and angry, as a battle of wills erupts. But then Blair phones with a change of planes and plans; she's coming home for the famous traditional Christmas Eve party after all - along with new fiance Enrique (Rene Lavan), and cranky Krank has to settle the dispute, organise a slap up celebration that is in keeping with the Hemlock Street traditions, as if nothing had happened.
Review by Louise Keller:
There are a few good laughs in Christmas With The Kranks, largely due to the winning presence of Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis, but the film falls down in its core concept of dishing up guilt on a platter. The notion of bullying people into succumbing into the trappings of Christmas does not necessarily represent goodwill to all, and while the situations present good comic opportunities, the film ends up feeling rather manipulative and sugary.
That's not to say there isn't fun to be had with The Kranks. I am still chuckling over the sight of Allen with an over-dose of botox and Curtis in an itzy bitzy bikini at the solarium, trying to hide her curves from the local minister who happens to be passing. Allen and Curtis make the most of every minute, as they hide from the neighbours and virtually become prisoners when they are made to feel mean.
Based on John Grisham's novel, Skipping Christmas, Luther and Nora Krank decide to do just that, and spend the money set aside for cards, gifts, a tree and their traditional Christmas Eve party, on a self-indulgent Caribbean cruise. Why stay home, when everything is different now that daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo) has left the nest and gone to Peru with the Peace Corps? Swapping galoshes for a tan never sounded so good. But what the Kranks don't count on is the hostility from the close-knit community led by Dan Aykroyd's Vic Frohmeyer, who has a dictator-like attitude about Christmas decorations, carol-singers and the two meter Frosty snowman who each year presides on the rooftop. Everybody's rooftop. As they are packing their suitcase, with neighbourhood hostilities at their peak, the phone rings and an excited Blair tells them she and her new fiancé will be home for Christmas, after all. Then it's a matter of doing what has already been undone. Getting a Hickory Honey Ham for the table and a beautiful Christmas tree when it is clearly too late, offers comedy situations (who would have ever thought of borrowing a neighbour's fully decorated tree?), and there's mayhem as Luther and Nora set about to create the traditional Christmas that Blair expects to find.
If overkill is the intention, Chris Columbus' script has succeeded. Both he and director Joe Roth (America's Sweethearts) play it for laughs. By story's end, when sentimentality hones in and we feel totally manipulated, the idea of skipping Christmas and getting away from it all, sounds more and more appealing. Reverse psychology, perhaps. How much fun you will have with the Kranks depends on how easy-to-please you are feeling. It's a mindless holiday comedy, and Allen and Curtis are certainly in good form.
Published July 21, 2005
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CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS: DVD (PG)
CAST: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Julie Gonzalo, Dan Aykroyd, Cheech Martin, Jake Busey, M. Emmett Walsh
PRODUCER: Michael Barnathan,Chris Columbua, Mark Radcliffe
DIRECTOR: Joe Roth
SCRIPT: Christopher Columbus (novel Skipping Christmas by John Grisham)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Don Burgess
EDITOR: Nick Moore
MUSIC: John Debney
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Garreth Stover
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 2, 2004
PRESENTATION: Widescreen 2.40:1/16:9 enhanced
SPECIAL FEATURES: -
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: July 6, 2005