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Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

No! Ho! Ho!

Directed by:

Joe Roth

Rating: 3/10

Running Time: 98 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG

Country: United States

For some bizarre reason, Tim Allen seems desperate to corner the festive flick market. Perhaps it’s because The Santa Clause has been his only real big-screen success outwith the CG confines of Buzz Lightyear. But even then, you’d think the flop that was the instantly-forgettable Santa Clause 2 would have put paid to that way of thinking. So why, then, did Allen – and Jamie Lee Curtis, for that matter – sign up for this car crash of a Chrimbo movie? The answer, of course, has to be money, though hopefully this won’t make very much of the stuff when potential viewers notice it’s up against the infinitely-superior Polar Express (I’m reserving judgement on the year’s other yuletide offering, ‘Surviving Christmas’, as at time of writing I’m yet to see it).

Allen plays personable everyman Luther Krank who, along with wifey Nora (Curtis) is finding the family home a bit empty now that daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo) is off to Peru to join the Peace Corps. So, to cut a long story short (if only director Joe Roth had given us all a break and done the same), the pair of them decide to give this year’s Christmas a miss and head for a ten day cruise in the Caribbean instead. As easy as it sounds? Of course it is, but Roth and writer Chris Colombus would have us believe otherwise, with the neighbours (led by a semi-tyrannical Dan Aykroyd) kicking up a stink about their street-mates not joining in the local festive fun.

Now, you or I would have told the sticky-beaking neighbours exactly where to stick their protest, but this is the movies, and apparently that makes it okay for each and every plot-hook to be completely implausible. So, in a film that feels like it lasts much longer than its 98 minutes, we’re force-fed pratfall after pratfall as the Kranks battle tooth and nail to have Christmas their way.

The comedy’s mostly slapstick, but it’s a style that only works if the performers’ hearts are in it, and here that’s definitely not the case. Allen’s character is very similar to the part played by Steve Martin in ‘Father of the Bride’, but Martin had far better material to work with in that one and the finished product worked well as a consequence. By contrast, Allen looks disinterested and even a touch embarrassed, with much the same going for Curtis. Let’s face it, both have made better than this in the past, and I can’t believe for a second that they don’t both know, in their heart of hearts, that what they’ve made here is quite simply dross. Christmas dross, but dross nonetheless.

It's Got: Botox, fake tan, and absolutely no need to buy a turkey.

It Needs: Someone to bundle the incessant carol singers into a large sack and throw them into a river.

Alternatives:

Jingle All The Way, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, The Santa Clause

Summary

Hold onto that admission money and go spend it on a pressie for a loved one. Or, at the very least, spend it on seeing a decent movie.

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