Christmas Extravaganza: Christmas with the Kranks

2004 holiday comedy

Rating: 6/20 (Emma: 7/20 [Note: Emma didn't watch this with me. She watched it on a bus on the way to Chicago. She found out that I was writing about it and wanted to be included though.])

Plot: The Kranks' only surviving child has joined the Peace Corps and isn't going to be around for Christmas. Actually, I don't know if they had other children. I'm going to assume both that they had other children and that those other children committed suicide in order to not have to be in this movie. Anyway, the lone surviving daughter, a little cutie played by Julie Gonzalo, is gone, and Mr. Krank decides to boycott all things Christmas and go on a Caribbean cruise with his wife--Mrs. Krank--instead. Apparently, this will enable them to save loads of money and avoid having to be sad because their kids, either dead by their own hands or away for the holidays. The neighbors, a bunch of Frosty-obsessed idiots, aren't happy with his decision.

If you're like me, you watched True Lies and added this to your spank bank:

Then, if you're like me, you watched Christmas with the Kranks because your brother told you it was great (Ok, not quite) and saw this:

And then your entire Christmas was ruined. Now I'm not in the business of body-shaming anybody, especially somebody as delicate as a celebrity, but you have to wonder whose idea this was. And it's really not even Jamie Lee Curtis although she should have known better. What is going on with Tim Allen? Would I be proud to have that body at age 50? Yeah, I probably would. Either one of them! Would I put myself on the big screen in a Speedo? No, I don't think I would.

Jamie Lee Curtis, I applaud you, girlfriend.

That was one of a multitude of painful scenes in this movie that can't figure out where it's going and then doesn't get there. Or, more precisely, it actually gets exactly where it's supposed to. It's like the other Christmas movies sat next to Christmas at the Kranks for some eggnog and cookie time and said, "Listen, Christmas with the Kranks. This is what you're going to have to do," before unleashing cliche after cliche at it. It got solid enough advice on how to become a Christmas classic--you have to have family, neighborly love is important, the true meaning of Christmas needs to be squeezed in there, slapstick humor is something people like in their Christmas movies--but didn't know what to do with any of it. Take a few scenes that I assume are supposed to be funny in this. There's a scene where Mr. Krank doesn't have an umbrella and is forced to go buy white chocolate. He gets predictably splashed by a passing car, and he ends up as wet as a human being can be. Later, he ices his lawn so that an innocent mailman, his wife, some carolers, and a cat are affected, thanks to some spectacularly awful special effects. Later, there's a hilarious Botox gag which should have been cut since it creates continuity errors and doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the plot. It leads to this:

And that wasn't funny at all, but it did lead to the lone smile I had while watching this because it reminded me of Santa Conquers the Martians.

As you can see, it was an obvious homage. You've got people falling off roofs, Dan Aykroyd yelling at everybody, and a hilarious scene where characters are fighting over a canned ham, a scene which recalled Jingle All the Way and made me dock this thing another point.

The problem isn't really with the individual parts although none of those parts are any parts I'd want to have in my Christmas movie. The problem is that this really never sets a tone. It alternates between mean-spirited or extremely cynical and fluffy and inspirational, and the lack of consistency gives this an almost schizophrenic vibe. It started to feel like Santa Claus dropping off toys at one house and then going next door just to put a kid's hand in a glass of water so that he pisses his bed. Since it never establishes a tone, like The Ref or Bad Santa, every time the couple argues or the neighbors get in each other's faces or there's some sort of slapsticky injury that would land actual human beings in the hospital, it just comes across as grouchy.

I'm not even sure I understand what I'm supposed to learn from this. The last thirty minutes are so all over the place that it barely makes any sense. Maybe if Tim Allen was a more likable person, some of this would work. But he's just not likable. He's a dope, and any ending that doesn't involve his house on fire or his cruise ship sinking and Jamie Lee Curtis letting a blue Tim Allen go after promising to never let him go like he's a pudgy Leonardo Dicaprio is going to be a disappointing ending.

This is the sort of Christmas movie that will just leave a bad taste in your mouth. It's as bad as somebody taking a shit in your stocking.

As I said, my brother mentioned this more than once, so I felt like I had to see just how bad it was. It's not Jingle All the Way bad, but it's not far off.

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