This 2004 American festive comedy is directed by Joe Roth and stars Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd, Julie Gonzalo, M.Emmet Walsh, and Cheech Marin.
When young Blair Krank (Gonzalo) leaves for Peru in the Peace Corps after Thanksgiving, her parents Luther (Allen) and Nora (Curtis) agree to invest the thousands of dollars they usually spend in Christmas decorations, food and gifts to fund a luxury cruise; skipping Christmas in their local neighbourhood.
They start to become frowned upon by their neighbours, none more so than Vic Frohmeyer (Aykroyd), who takes charge in rallying everyone to decorate their houses to win the local prize for best decorations. Luther stands his ground after coming under pressure from Vic, community carol singers and even local children, all hoping for him to reconsider and keep the festive spirit alive.
But on Christmas Eve, hours before departing, Blair calls to reveal she is engaged and is en-route home with her new fiancé to spend Christmas at home once more. Nora is more than willing to drop the cruise and rally around for last-minute decorations, food and gifts to welcome her daughter home, but Luther will face more of a battle to convince others to help him before Blair arrives home to nothing…
Probably one of the few Christmas films that I think is ok every year before watching, but when I actually DO watch it I remember how poor it really is on the surface. It’s got everything you need for a basic, run-of-the-mill madcap seasonal film; the festive community, chaotic shopping sprees, decoration disasters, a picture-perfect happy ending with cranky neighbours and bitter families alongside slapstick chaos…but something about this film is done in a way that is more irritating and drab than others.
Most of the film spends time making you resent the community the Kranks life in, as the basis of the story revolves around how two parents, parted from their grown-up daughter, want to go away on a cruise for Christmas. Sounds nice. BUT we are introduced to cantankerous and creepy, stalker-ish neighbours, headed by a silly and wasted Dan Aykroyd, who spend a good portion of the time bullying, moaning and threatening the Kranks to make them stay around and decorate their home.
Basically, pushing them into something they have no right to participate in. The Kranks are a very irritating couple from the outset – frumpy Jamie Lee Curtis comes across as very screechy and very unstable. Tim Allen, who increasingly comes over like he is the King of Christmas Comedy (after his ‘Santa Clause Trilogy’), gurns, goofs and over-acts his way through this in a series of un-funny set pieces, dialogue exchanges and slapstick humour.
With an irritating couple to start with, mixed with a creepy community, this doesn’t give you anything other than maybe a few chuckles as the mad-cap dash to escape Christmas ensues (it’s been done better), and then the finale of the film has it all reversed for a mad-cap dash to build Christmas (it’s been done better).
Very flat and clichéd supporting characters – the lazy cops, the grumpy old man, the cheeky children – give you something that is very un-memorable and rather un-funny unless you like your Christmas films to come over as very over-acted, very hammy and very tacky – festive films are usually a mix of all three, but there is usually a charm behind them. This has nothing like that.
Directed by: Joe Roth
Starring: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd, Julie Gonzalo, M.Emmet Walsh, Cheech Marin
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