Christmas With The Kranks (2004)
What’s It About: When their only daughter leaves for the Peace Corps after Thanksgiving break, empty-nesters, Luthor (Tim Allen) and Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) Krank decide to book a cruise vacation on Christmas break. However, they seem to live in a neighborhood that will make your life a living hell if you don’t decorate your house for the holidays or buy a lousy Christmas tree. The Kranks stand their ground and the attempt at humor ensues.
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:
- Music Supervision by Little Steven? What exactly did he supervise? Is this movie only play Bruce Springsteen Christmas music?
- Based on a novel by John Grisham? Is this a Christmas legal thriller?
- Man, Jamie Lee Curtis looks 70 years old in this movie. And more masculine than ever. When this movie came out she was 46 years old. And I know from the Activa ads that she can still look great so why did they decide to make her frumpy and homely?
- With the surname of Krank, you’d just be expected to be mean and crotchety right?
- This yutz at the stationery store followed Jamie Lee all the way to lunch, interrupted her and her friends to further ask about her holiday cards and invitations because he was perplexed as to why she wouldn’t need them. Huh?
- In what small-town America backwards reality would neighbors and other friends give a hot shit about someone not celebrating Christmas one time to go away on a vacation instead.
- Ha! See Tim Allen is a lawyer in this John Grisham story. What a shock!
- How the hell is everyone home during the day? Almost every neighbor is setting up Christmas decorations in the middle of the day. Tim Allen is working so I’m assuming it’s a weekday. What the hell?
- Dan Aykroyd is actually chasing down Jamie Lee’s car to persuade her to decorate the house. And she actually pinches his hands in the car window and threatens his safety. Ridiculous!
- I take that back, Jamie Lee’s Ta-Ta’s still look fantastic.
- This couple’s scheme to skip Christmas made the local papers?! Wow.
- CHEECH! As a cop!! Partnered with Jake Busey!! It’s really weird seeing Cheech in a police uniform.
- Caroling looks like a lot of fun. Much more fun than pulling one’s fingernails out with needle-nose pliers I’m sure.
- Why did the Kranks go down to the basement to avoid the carolers? Couldn’t they simply shut the blinds or go upstairs?!
- I know this Botox joke is a decade old by now but I couldn’t help but chuckle at Tim Allen try to drink water.
- Of course the Krank’s daughter is coming home for Christmas and calls to tell them minutes before they were supposed to leave for their cruise. And of course they cancel the cruise to set up their usual Christmas spiel. Tim Allen only looks mildly annoyed at this. I was way more pissed just by dropping my English muffin on the floor this morning.
- Tim Allen was willing to buy a Christmas tree from the guys whom he passed on early in the film and this last minute tree is worse than the Charlie Brown Tree. It’s a stick with some needles on it. He would have a better tree if he found a dead one in the forest. But he was willing to buy it for $15! And it’s not like they are showing that he went to several lots and they were all sold out to show his desperation. And in a pinch, he could always try to get an artificial one. This movie is stupid.
- Tim Allen totally tackled that kid from Malcolm in the Middle hard. He’s lucky the kid doesn’t have a concussion.
- This whole Hickory Ham bit with Jamie Lee is way too much. She races with an old lady for the last one. Then pays an exorborant amount for someone else’s ham. Then she cartoonishly loses it in the parking lot and it gets run over by a truck. And again, this is the only store we see her go to. We never see her go to another supermarket to check if they have the ham. In my town alone there are 15 supermarkets and plus there’s neighboring towns to go to. Do they live in a dome or something?
- And this Hickory Ham is a canned ham by the way. Not to sound like a foodie but she’d probably be better off going to a butcher and getting a real good quality slab of ham. Just saying.
- Why is there a noose around the huge Frosty neck to pull it on the roof? Any other common person would’ve used a simple knot and not a noose. Have you ever tied a noose? It takes a little skill to learn. And this makes even less sense since it didn’t work into a neighbors-appalled-by-seeing-Frosty-hanged-by-the-Kranks joke somehow.
- So none of the neighbors had any plans on Christmas Eve? Every year the Kranks throw a party that evening but since they canceled the party this year all the neighbors had nothing alternatively planned? They just give up. No one else decided to take the reigns in throwing the party. Apparently the Kranks are the only neighbors willing and able to throw Christmas parties.
- Why would Blair have an issue with her parents planning on taking a cruise on Christmas? She, herself, was away in the Peace Corps and was going to miss Christmas!
- Speaking of their daughter Blair, sure she seems nice but what a rotten brat that just can’t call to tell them she’s coming home BEFORE she leaves Peru. I mean, she just assumes they didn’t make alternative plans like spend Christmas with friends or other relatives. And the kicker is, over the phone, she tells them she met a Peruvian man and is engaged! Seriously, if that was my daughter I’d tell her to stay in Peru!
- If I were to tell you that there’s a movie that features a short musical number with Dan Aykroyd playing accordion with Cheech and Jake Busey playing guitar and Austin Pendleton singing in Spanish, would you believe me?
- Oh so you’re allergic to pork? Oh OK why don’t you still just take this ham I’m trying to give you.
- As nice of a gesture this is to give the cruise to the old couple across the street with the wife who has terminal cancer, they’re treating this like he just saved her life or something. What good is a Caribbean cruise going to do for them? Can she even travel much less on a cruise ship?
- I’m really digging the Little Steven music supervision in this movie.
Is It Actually Jolly: It has it’s moments of Christmas cheer but it’s mostly a very lame attempt to tell a new story about a couple who decide to skip the usual Christmas spiel and have a conflict with the wacky neighbors. It tries to be funny but I think I laughed only a few times.
Jolliest Moment: Besides seeing a MILF Jamie Lee in a bikini I’d say the jolliest moment was when Tim Allen had the Botox face trying to eat a lunch. I used to watch Home Improvement but never found Allen to be that funny but his slapstick eating scene was more than mildly amusing for some reason.
Dumbest Moment: Even though it was totally expected and necessary to the plot but the Kranks changing their vacation plans because their daughter is coming home for Christmas is absurd. They did nothing but make a huge deal out of this cruise get-away; getting tans, injecting Botox, never buying a tree or decorating the house (even a little bit) and actually avoiding neighbors because they were so excited for this trip. One phone call from their brat daughter and everything is dropped like that. Not even a “I’m sorry Honey, we booked a cruise” type of conversation. They actually lied and hid the fact that they were going away from their daughter because they were ashamed of it or that the daughter would be upset at this. I know you love your daughter but I don’t see any reason to waste your money just because she plans to be home for Christmas at the last minute. She’s an adult for pete’s sake; she’s not 8!
Overall: This is your run-of-the-mill family-friendly dull and not-so-funny (too many hyphens?) Christmas movie. There’s more of these type than any other Christmas movie and that makes sense but boy why are they so tough to sit through. I’m assuming the target audience was mostly adults for this film but it’s rated PG and that’s probably the main problem with this one. It’s about a couple, that for the first time ever, decide to splurge themselves this Christmas and go away. There should’ve been more adult-themed jokes and scenarios involving the conflict of skipping Christmas and feuding with the crazy neighbors. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a classic because it wasn’t afraid to sometimes be lewd, racy and have adult language like real life. Christmas With the Kranks would probably be a funnier and more relatable Christmas movie if it were treated like it was grounded in reality and not tamed down for families.
Score: 5 Little Stevens (out of 10)