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Christmas With The Kranks

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Christmas With The Kranks

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Tim Allen
Director: Joe Roth
Rated: PG
RunTime: 94 Minutes
Release Date: November 2004
Genres: Christmas, Comedy

*Also starring: Julie Gonzalo, Billy Asher, Elizabeth Franz, Felicity Huffman, Alan King, Dan Aykroyd, Cheech Marin, M. Emmet Walsh, Jordan Alec, Rene Lavan, Andrew Daly

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS, directed by Joe Roth (AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS), is a delightfully funny family film with plenty of big laughs. Based on one of John Grisham's rare non-thrillers, it tells the story of a mother and father who decide to just skip Christmas and go on a cruise instead since their daughter is off to Peru with the Peace Corps.

Luther Krank (Tim Allen) issues a memo to his fellow workers that the Kranks are taking a complete break from Christmas this year, which means that he'll be neither giving nor accepting any gifts. His co-workers, and especially his neighbors, are nonplussed by the Kranks' actions. Luther is gung-ho and enthusiastic about his idea, but his wife Nora (played by a very funny Jamie Lee Curtis) is quite resistant. And when Vic Frohmeyer (Dan Aykroyd), the neighborhood's self-elected warden, starts leading a group harassing the Kranks for their lack of holiday spirit, Luther and Nora take to hiding behind their curtains and sofas.

One of the better recurring jokes concerns the seven-foot Frosty the Snowman that everyone on the Kranks' block puts on top of their roofs during the holidays. When Luther refuses to put up his Frosty, the local kids initiate a series of crank calls -- "Free Frosty!" -- designed to drive the Kranks crazy so that they'll relent and put up their Frosty. The movie is silly and cute, consistently hitting just the right comedic note.

Of course, the story makes a complete turnabout when daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo) and her new fiancé suddenly announce on Christmas Eve that they are on their way home to the Kranks for Christmas after all. By then, most Christmas trimmings and fixings are long gone, but the Kranks hilariously improvise. Think their friends, who were miffed at them for not celebrating, will eagerly pitch in and help save the day? And do you think that there might be some heart-warming messages tacked on at the end of the story? Sure, but who cares. The laughs come often and easy, and the messages seem genuine, even if predictable.

But, why oh why, do the studios keep opening Christmas movies so early that they will be gone by Christmas? This strategy seems not only illogical but counterproductive as well.

CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS runs 1:34. It is rated PG for "brief language and suggestive content" and would be acceptable for all ages.

My son Jeffrey, age 15, gave it *** 1/2, saying that it was really, really funny and full of great jokes. He didn't think the semi-serious ending worked, however, and he didn't like some of the weird camera movements.

Copyright © 2004 Steve Rhodes

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