Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) Krank have enjoyed many wonderful years celebrating Christmas with their only daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo) but when she goes off to Peru on a Peace Corps mission the two suddenly find themselves alone during that most precious time of year. Collectively now Awww! Not too worry Luther has a brilliant plan. He convinces the reluctant Nora to skip Christmas altogether–no decorations no tree no presents–and go with him on a sun-filled Caribbean cruise instead. Unfortunately the neighbors have a huge problem with it especially the neighborhood Christmas Nazi Vic Frohmeyer (Dan Aykroyd) and the battle between the Kranks and their neighbors soon threatens peace harmony and good will towards men. But then like a little Christmas miracle Luther and Nora get a call from Blair saying she’s coming home after all (she’s a sneaky one isn’t she?). Can the Kranks crank it in gear and get themselves back into the Christmas spirit in time for their beloved daughter’s arrival? Oh for the love of Kris Kringle I hope so!
It’s not really Tim Allen or Jamie Lee Curtis‘ fault the movie fails to connect. Both are extremely adept at playing it for laughs especially with the physical comedy. Curtis is hysterical chasing the last canned ham through the grocery store parking lot as it slips out her hands and rolls out of control into the street while Allen‘s comic talents shine through as he attempts to eat after having Botox injections (though it’s time for the actor to move on from Christmas movies). Yet somehow the Kranks slowly denigrate into whining screeching paranoid curmudgeons while the neighbors turn into creepy militants. By the time the Kranks get that all-important call from Blair and get all Christmas-y again it’s too late; you’re already thoroughly irritated with the lot of them. Only Aykroyd seems to rise slightly above starting off as the villain but ultimately becoming the beacon of community togetherness as he rallies the neighborhood to help the Kranks get back into Christmas.
Sing with me: “Have yourself a Kranky little Christmas…” Is it me or are the Christmas movies this season cynical downers? Of course they don’t mean to be but they are just the same including the obnoxiously bad Surviving Christmas the eerily non-human
Polar Express–and now the ill-tempered Christmas with the Kranks. The idea of two people whose child has left the nest deciding to skip Christmas while those around them chastise them for it has some potential. But in this case the story comes from a John Grisham book Skipping Christmas–yes the same guy who writes legal thrillers. That should be your first clue. A second clue is that the script is written by Chris Columbus the same creative mind behind another Christmas favorite Home Alone. It’s evident from both movies that Columbus is a sap for the whole holiday spirit thing but a tad mean-spirited at the same time. Only director Joe Roth (America’s Sweethearts) recognizes what he’s got to work with highlighting as much slapstick comedy as he can before the schmaltz takes over.