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
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