Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

Movie Released: Nov. 24, 2004 | DVD Release Date: Nov. 8, 2005

 

When Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) Krank’s daughter decides not to come home for Christmas, the couple decides to “skip Christmas” and go away on a luxury cruise. Objecting to the plan is nearly everyone they know including the vendors that look forward to their holiday orders. Will skipping Christmas be the best decision they’ve ever made or will a sudden change in plans send them into a panic spiral and will the very people they’ve spurned be willing to help them make their dreams come true? Based on the novel “Skipping Christmas” by John Grisham.

 

 

 

We’re told that there is a war on Christmas. On the circle of about 40 houses in the subdivision in which I live, approximately 10 have political playcard-like signs placed in their lawns that read “Keep Christ in Christmas” while the remaining 30 are forced to forgo lights due to either lack of motivation or the rising cost of energy. In the fictionalized version of Riverside Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), the costs are not a factor, and there is no option, everyone is decorating for Christmas. Vic Froymeyer is the self-appointed leader of the Christmas police, played brilliantly in a military buzz cut by Dan Akroyd. Vic makes a plan to force Luther to decorate for Christmas so that the street doesn’t lose out at a chance to be named the best decorated.

Let’s be clear, the goal of this movie is the laugh. Why wouldn’t a couple that decided to go away for the holidays just tell their daughter they’d decided to leave when she told them she was remaining with her humanitarian mission for the holidays and to just let herself in. I have known neighbors who hound about the length of the grass but not that Frosty hasn’t made it to the roof in a timely fashion. How charming would it be to have carolers on the lawn in Victorian garb? It’s never happened in my neighborhood nor did a dress up as a youth group caroler visiting the senior home. I don’t know anyone that has a stationer, let alone one that would chase them down to lunch with the girls if they failed to order.

Luther is the militant anti-Christmas leader. He is ready to get away from the snow and into the sun and let’s face it, for those of us in the colder regions of the country there’s nothing more rejuvenating than a break in the sun. Once he crunches the number and sees the money they’ll save, he is sold and ready to get Botox and celebrate in a tanning bed. Nora is more reluctant. She’s a mother of one and clearly a person who has ensured that every Christmas is better than the last for her only child. She makes sure that every detail is perfect down to her quirky holiday-themed sweaters. Luther is the role that Tim Allen was born to play. He’s obnoxious and grating but has a soft side. Some viewers will identify with his furious stance when it comes to the overdone ridiculousness of the holidays. He’s a man that just wants to get away and who can’t identify with that?

In Nora we see a woman go from manic mom to what she must have been as a newlywed — hesitant and scared of change but willing to go for it — morphing back to manic mom. Her daughter is her world and disappointing her, even the slightest change in routine, is unconscionable. She’ll never know what her mom has done for her and Nora doesn’t need her to know; she just needs her to see that she’s loved. Jamie Lee Curtis, from the start of Christmas with the Kranks plays such a charming middle-aged mom not yet accustomed to the empty nest.

The supplementary cast of characters are outstandingly portrayed. Erik Per Sullivan is a standout in the role of Vic’s son, Spike, serving as Luther’s sidekick later in the film. Cheech Marin and Jake Busey play police officers and perfect comedy foils. M. Emmet Walsh plays Walt Sheel, Luther’s across the street neighbor and nemesis.

Christmas with the Kranks has everything; comedy, drama and heartfelt happiness. If you’re looking for a wonderful Christmas movie to watch with the kids (starting around age 12), check this one out today.

 

Christmas with the Kranks is available as a DVD and on Amazon Instant Video

Amazon U.S.   Amazon U.K.   Amazon CA

Title Christmas with the Kranks
Director Joe Roth
Actors Tim Allen, Dan Aykroyd, Cheech Marin, Jamie Lee Curtis
Length 1 hour and 39 minutes
Rating PG
DVD Release November 8, 2005