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:: Christmas With The Kranks

Santa Clause and Married With Children’s Tim Allen champions mediocrity once again in this tiresome film that glorifies the most commercial aspects of Christmas.

After their daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo) has joined the Peace Corps in Latin America, Luther Krank (Tim Allen) and his wife Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) decide to save for a holiday cruise by “skipping” Christmas. Unfortunately, this reasonable notion inspires the wrath of their neighbours, led by Christmas Nazi, Vic Frohmeyer (Dan Ackroyd). While Luther encounters the resentment of his fellow office workers, housewife Nora’s so terrorised by local children she has to hide in the basement. The two even make the front page of the local newspaper for their apparently churlish behaviour.

Director Joe Roth struggles with a hackneyed script by Chris Columbus (adapted from the John Grisham novel, “Skipping Christmas”) that suggests Christmas decorations, rather than cleanliness, are next to Godliness. As expected in this saccharine milieu, an emergency forces the Kranks and their tinsel-happy neighbours to band together and celebrate the “true” meaning of Christmas.

It’s almost impossible to enjoy Christmas With The Kranks, although being a child or an American might assist. Although there are some humorous moments, particularly earlier on in the film, even Jamie Lee Curtis’ normally welcome presence can’t save this movie. To an Australian audience, the obsessive behaviour of the neighbours with regard to blow-up snowmen and stalking choristers seems positively unhinged. There were worse films than Christmas With The Kranks in 2004, but not many.