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Christmas With The Kranks

Rated PG - for brief language and suggestive content.
Director: Joe Roth
Starring: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd
Running Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: November 24, 2004
Official Site

Plot Summary

After faithfully and happily celebrating Christmas their entire lives, and with their daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo) in Peru to serve a stint in the Peace Corps, Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) Krank are facing the prospect of a very lonely holiday. One blustery Chicago night, Luther glances longingly at an alluring poster in a travel agency window and pictures himself and Nora basking in the glow of the sun on a Caribbean cruise. What if this Christmas there was no tree, no holiday lights, no fruitcakes, no parties, no decorating… no Christmas? (from

Film Review

While it's important not to get caught up in the commercialization and secular-side of Christmas, it's hard not to love the traditional aspects of the season. For example, Christmas movies have always been a favorite during the Christmas season. From classics like White Christmas to animated specials from Garfield and VeggieTales to even last year's Elf, movies celebrating the warmth and love and sometimes even the holiday's true meaning, have been made for years. This year has already produced the abomination titled Surviving Christmas, so one can only hope Christmas With The Kranks doesn't suffer a similar fate.

Best known for his role on the sitcom Home Improvement, Tim Allen returns for his third outing in a Christmas film with Christmas With The Kranks. Allen stars as the head of the household, Luther Krank, who normally indulges in celebrating Christmas big every year with his family. When he and his wife Nora's (Jamie Lee Curtis) daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo) leaves for the Peace Corps at the film's start, Luther decides it'd be easier to just forget Christmas entirely this year. What ensues is an over-the-top and ultra silly film that has its moments.

Christmas With The Kranks is based on a best-selling novel -- believe it or not -- by John Grisham. While the novel was called "Skipping Christmas," the filmmakers decided to rename it to avoid confusion with Surviving Christmas. Kranks suspends realism for most of the film's duration, allowing people to act in ways you'd only see, perhaps, in an animated film. This is all fine, but anyone expecting a straight-forward film without an abundance of exaggerated events will more than likely hate this film. Most of the film spends time on the Kranks' attempt to survive the season while avoiding the holiday altogether, and naturally the film feels like anything but a Christmas film (but should it if it's about skipping Christmas?). Many of the jokes aren't as funny as the filmmakers may hope they are, with many of them leaving one to think a younger audience is intended. However, when jokes about the married Kranks' sex lives are thrown in the mix, as well as a gag involving the couple in almost frighteningly revealing attire, one can only wonder who the film's targeted age group really is. But while Kranks isn't as funny as I expected (or perhaps it's just because the funniest moments were all in the trailers?), it remains an enjoyable and entertaining story.

The movie switches gears when the Kranks learn on Christmas Eve that their daughter will be home that night, thus overturning their plans to skip Christmas. The remaining film feels like an extended ending where the movie gets its Christmas spirit. Sadly, Christmas With The Kranks never once even hints at Jesus as a part of what Christmas is about, but does focus on selflessness and giving before the credits roll.

Although filled with plenty of problems to keep this from being an annual seasonal must, Christmas With The Kranks is enjoyable enough to be worth a matinee or a rental by a fireside. While it would have benefited by a less cartoonish and exaggerated approach, it's a consistently lighthearted film that doesn't take itself too seriously, thus allowing nearly anything and everything to happen.

Overall, you're probably better off picking up a copy of Elf this season than rushing out to Christmas With The Kranks, but if you're hankering for a new holiday movie to escape to during the hustle and bustle of the season, then Kranks may be worth a look.

- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 11/28/04)


Parental Guide: Content Summary

. Sex/Nudity: Mostly suggestive. When Luther wants to tell Nora about his surprise caribbean cruise plans, he tells her he's not finished with her as he runs off. She thinks this means something else and guzzles her wine and some of his and unbuttons her vest (there's a turtle neck shirt underneath). Not realizing she's reading him wrong, he comes back in a tropical shirt and starts dancing (making her excited) and as he clears off the table (to make room for the travel package), she comments that it's not even Saturday night and tells him to close the curtains. Nothing happens as he continues to tell her about the trip; Later, when Luther tells Nora they'll still make their annual Christmas donations, she climbs on top of him to which he replies, "But it's not even Saturday night?" and the scene ends there; Luther and Nora go tanning and we see many views of Nora in a tiny bikini (thus showing a lot of cleavage and skin). Being they're in a mall, Nora runs into her priest who stares at her in the bikini in disbelief. Luther then walks out wearing a tiny bathing suit that shows a bulge (all played for laughs).
. Vulgarity/Language: 1 "d*mn" words, 1 "h*ll," 2 "G-d"
. Alcohol/Drugs: Nora guzzles her glass of wine and Luther's when she mistakes his excitement to tell her about his idea for a cruise as a hint they're going to have sex. Many people drink beer and wine throughout the film. We see Nora guzzling a glass of beer while in a restaurant with Luther. We see Luther drinking quite a bit of wine and later sitting in a corner pouring more for himself.
. Blood/Gore: Nora has a tiny bloody cut on her forehead from banging it when sitting up too fast in a tanning bed.
. Violence: All comical; (SPOILERS within) We see Luther spray his sidewalk with water so it freezes (and causes carollers/visitors to fall); Nora falls onto a moving shopping cart and accidentally plows into a food display; Luther falls off his roof while trying to mount a snowman and a rope catches on his leg, causing him to dangle. The firemen then come and cut him down (so he lands on his head); An officer chases a thief and slips on the ice, slamming his head into a railing. The thief falls from a distance and lands on the ground hard but is okay. We then see his face slammed against the car window; We later see the thief struck to the ground again.


Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.

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