Christmas with the Kranks Review

Where the wild bells of Christmas guide viewers and consumers are startlingly rough and rowdy. Down they go into the hellfire, the heart of Christmas bleeding with not enough creativity and inspiration to clog the flagging holiday season. Christmas with the Kranks is a vein and upsetting direction to set off on. A porous film that soaks up fun and oozes it out in a thick and uncomfortable paste. It does not inspire the spirit of Christmas as well as it should. That is something to do with having Tim Allen hang around in speedos and a tan, though. Fun for the family, this is not.  

It is not just the burnt body of Buzz Lightyear standing proudly that makes Christmas with the Kranks an uncomfortable holiday feature, but Luther Crank’s attitude to the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas with the Kranks opens miserably enough. Parents send their daughter away to Peru for the year, and the tones of the holidays are nowhere to be found. Everyone is grim and upset and completely miserable. American capitalism manipulates the mind of Crank, whose immediate response to being soaked in the rain is to purchase tickets for a Caribbean cruise. Not a bad shout, but the ruffling of neighbourhood feathers and the shock of wife Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) could have been avoided if Luther weren’t such a horrid person. 

He hands out fliers telling people he isn’t celebrating Christmas. His passive-aggressive assault on Christmas is meant to be a wave of the hand rather than a violent shaking of ritual and tradition. But ritual is at the core of Christmas with the Kranks. These people who are so offended by the concept of not having a party at the Kranks’ place is worrying. Would so many really care? Yes, apparently. Christmas with the Kranks is a fascinating piece because it pairs Dan Aykroyd with the spirit of Christmas. The cult-like status of Luther’s neighbours is ominous, but the variety of which they are displayed and the mania that follows makes it that perfect feature to watch when deep in the hole of mulled wine and eggnog chasers. Allen and Curtis are surprisingly formidable in their leading roles, with decent performances that ricochet off of one another. If only the writing would leave them well alone. 

Christmas with the Cranks has a tactful and entertaining quality, though. It is the right level of homage to Christmas and a wildly entertaining blur of earnest love for the holiday period and digestible hate for those that love it so much. Exiled from his community, the witch trials begin when Vic Frohmeyer (Aykroyd) begins knocking down the doors for Frosty the Snowman. He gathers the group, and director Joe Roth assembles his finest bits and pieces to replicate the Halloween scares Curtis would be aware of. That replication is odd and adds to the hilarious layers that are to follow. Christmas with the Kranks is not a Christmas classic, but it is a stark warning for those that take the holiday season a tad too seriously.  

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