Originally, I was going to talk about the strange phenomenon of not so great Christmas movies released in the mid-2000’s (and a few incidental Christmas ones as well) but then I ended up watching Christmas with the Kranks as a part of that research and I felt the desire to talk about it.
Featuring Dan Aykroyd with a “punch-me” face most of the movie!
Christmas with the Kranks is about a family whose daughter is going away over Christmas and they decide to just skip Christmas. As it turned out this family spent over $3000 a year on celebrating Christmas so going on a cruise was more affordable (I wish I had that much money to spend on Christmas – geez!). They are surprised when their daughter calls them last minute to say she is coming home with her new fiancé and is expecting the usual Christmas traditions. The neighbourhood comes together to help the Krank family pull out all the stops for their daughter even though their Christmas skipping antics had rubbed them the wrong way initially.
Christmas with the Kranks joins the ranks of Christmas movies that were based on books. Did you know that large number of the Christmas classics you are familiar with were original based on novels or in the case of Christmas Vacation – an article in a magazine? A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, Die Hard, not to mention others which I have already revealed throughout this string of blogs were all based on books! Before I get too off topic, Christmas with the Kranks was actually based off of a John Grisham novel, Skipping Christmas. I was surprised when I discovered this since I mostly think of his legal thrillers like the Pelican Brief (also made into a movie) when I think of his books.
With more snow than the entire movie.
The movie was not well received when it came out in 2004 barely making back its budget of 60 million domestically (United States). It is only rated 5.2 out 10 on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and has an even worse rating on Rotten Tomatoes! This isn’t really that surprising considering that the book also received some negative reviews and is generally considered sub-par compared to John Grisham’s other writing.
I started watching this film expecting the worst, but I don’t feel like it was that bad. I don’t feel like I would rate it much higher on IMDB but it definitely made me less angry than Four Christmases. It did however make me angry still. This movie presents itself as a story of a comedy where a family makes an impulsive decision and the community pulls together (with the spirit of Christmas, blah, blah) to save the magic for their daughter. The movie isn’t really about this though. It’s about a rich, mostly white neighbourhood that appears to be obsessed with Christmas to a point where they feel the need to bully those who do not wish to participate in the festivities!
They even make the front page of a newspaper – this isn’t news!
The majority of the movie takes place before the Kranks know their daughter is returning and the “comedy” is mostly from them defending themselves from the peer pressure of everyone in the community. They have mobs of neighbours who yell at them on their lawn, neighbours purposely send Christmas carolers to their house to guilt them and Luther Krank (Tim Allen’s character) is even harassed at work when he passes around a very polite note about the fact he will not be celebrating Christmas(which he shouldn’t even need to explain)!
The whole concept just baffles me about how that is funny, because it isn’t. They seem to make an effort to say that it’s not a religious thing and that they are inclusive to other faith’s holidays but not to a personal choice. The Kranks are mainly treated so harshly because they have been so generous and completely in the holiday spirit in the past; which is so unfair. Also to be clear, the Kranks end up making the decision to completely boycott Christmas after Luther Krank pressures Nora Krank (Jamie Lee Curtis’ character) into it. So the peer pressure isn’t just limited to the community.
But Luther falls off the roof so I guess he gets his penance.
Nora still likes the idea of doing things like donating to her charities or putting up a few decorations but Luther insists that they would need to do nothing in order to afford their cruise- which I disagree with. If they choose not to celebrate Christmas in order to save money, it makes sense not to buy a tree, new decorations, to not throw a party, even to not donate to their charities (maybe just donate less?)…etc., but it doesn’t cost money to put up existing decorations does it? I know that if I was already cutting back on Christmas because of money, maybe I might be lazy about putting up decorations – it’s pretty reasonable.
The difference between me and the Kranks though is I wouldn’t find it to be a big deal if my neighbours offered to put up the traditional neighbourhood decoration(s) for me. However unreasonable this mindset may be though; people need to respect that! This PG rated movie only teaches children that those people who are not celebrating the same thing or way as you are wrong and they should be pressured into doing what the majority sees fit which is a terrible lesson.
Also the lesson of never get random Botox for no reason to the plot what-so-ever!
With my anger out of the way, I will admit that there was some silliness that I did enjoy in the movie. I also really enjoy Jamie Lee Curtis as an actress and she did a great job playing Nora as being completely out of her element with skipping Christmas. She is one of those actresses who doesn’t receive any love from the Academy Awards but has been recognized multiple times from the Golden Globes for her comedic portrayals (and has won twice!).
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend Christmas with the Kranks, unless you want to use it as a teaching method about peer pressure, bullying and holiday exclusion. If you agree with me, check out this hilarious review that expands more on the plot holes of this movie.
What do you think about Christmas with the Kranks? Disagree with my opinion? Let us know in the comments!