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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 7.95%
Average: 4.55%
Pretty Bad: 14.77%
Total Crap72.73%

7 reviews, 46 user ratings

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Christmas with the Kranks
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Laura Kyle

"Christmas movies should take a vacation like the rest of us this year."
1 stars

Well, we’re two out of three as far as bad Christmas movies go. Luckily, SAVING CHRISTMAS and now CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS were kind enough to keep their distance from the actual holiday, releasing themselves upon an unsuspecting public well before Thanksgiving.

It’s not surprising a John Grisham novel is being made into a feature film, and in the case of Kranks – it’s not surprising Tim Allen is starring in it. The Christmas/Family Movie is to Tim Allen as mispronounced words are to President Bush – it defines him, and probably shouldn’t. Allen seems to be stuck in the mud of Holiday Genre and Light, Family-friendly Comedy Fare and only sometimes does he get to play in it (Toy Story, Galaxy Quest and okay, even The Santa Clause). He’s a likeable guy and a pretty decent comic actor – but Christmas with the Kranks is not going to be a welcomed addition to his already jolly resume, even with co-stars like Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Akroyd. So, one wonders – was this really necessary? Is Tim the Tool-man Taylor fearful of distancing himself from his secondary identity as Santa Clause? Two typecasting strikes and you can still hit a home run, but three: you’re out, right? Well, this is Hollywood and everybody likes Allen… so probably not.

In Kranks, Allen plays a cranky (get it?) husband and father named Luther Krank, who thinks up a plan to take his wife, Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis), on a cruise, leaving Christmas behind – no gift exchange, no decorations, and no charity either. But it isn’t so much that he’s bent on playing Mr. Scrooge, it’s just that only daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo) is away for the first time and there really doesn’t seem to be any reason to celebrate. However, his scheme does not go unnoticed by the Christmas Mafia, AKA his neighbors. And when Blair suddenly decides to come home, Operation Holiday Merriment goes underway. But you already knew this from the trailer.

That’s basically it, minus the scenes upon scenes filled to the top with elaborate, but highly uninventive and unoriginal physical gags, big facial expressions, character overreactions and stupidity - dictated without logic, relevance to the story, or, and this is the worst part… humor. The plot is so asinine and outrageous, involving Vic (Dan Akroyd) going mental over his neighbor’s utter lack of Christmas Cheer, that it forgets to be funny. Somebody gets splashed with a puddle as a car drives past, lots of people fall down, an animal gets abused, property is damaged- yep, every play from the “crazy comedy” book is used, and to a gratuitous extent.

Each scene and every bit of dialogue is ludicrous and insipid – do I really care about Nora’s chaotic excursion to obtain the last item of Hickory Honey Ham? Is comparing someone without a tan to an “uncooked chicken” as funny as it gets? Does it make any sense that Nora and Luther don’t just tell their daughter they opted not to take part in the Christmas festivities this year? No, yes, and no.

The film only managed to crank one or two laughs out of me, and after each one I felt disappointed in myself - and about a third of the way through, after my last laugh of the night died, so did my sense of humor.

Allen is the only thing redeeming about Kranks and he is also the only cast member who solicits any smiles or comes across as even mildly believable. I couldn’t stomach Jamie Lee Curtis’ interpretation of a frumpy housewife mom who happily screams at the top of her lungs when finding out her 23-year-old daughter is on the phone, hides under her sheet covers when her angry neighbors riot outside, and agrees to skip Christmas but keeps asking questions like: “Why can’t we put up Frosty?” And Dan Akroyd’s “I’ll kill you if you don’t celebrate the holidays” routine is too absurd and exaggerated to be amusing.

But the biggest flaw is probably that throughout Kranks, there is a nagging undercurrent.

What’s so bad about realizing the joy of being with family doesn’t need to be tied to a specific date on the calendar, especially when that date is characterized by shoppers pushing and shoving each other, and money being frivolously wasted? Why does Jesus Christ’s birth call for a snowman on the roof and deforestation? Christmas with the Kranks could have aimed from this satirical angle, but instead it gives into the holiday spirit it first mocks, ending with one of the following lines: “Skipping Christmas. What a stupid idea.” And “Maybe next year…” follows, as if Columbia Pictures has the balls to pop out a sequel. What is absolutely frustrating though, is skipping Christmas was the only good, novel idea in this entire movie, but Kranks can’t seem to figure that out.

There is some curious dialogue though, that may strike a chord with moviegoers, but for all the wrong reasons.

In one scene, a neighbor giddy at the site of Luther’s backtracking about skipping Christmas, jokes: “This is really funny, you know?” Could this be a case of a writer under the impression that telling an audience the movie is funny may actually convince them that it is? However, even Luther disagrees, responding with “Then why am I not laughing?” I had been asking myself the same question for a good thirty minutes already.

And, after the neighbors first start harassing the Kranks about not putting up their traditional Frosty the Snowman adornment, Luther laments something to the extent of: “I wish I could think of some snappy comeback…” We audience members wished he could too, because this is writer speak for: “I couldn’t think of a snappy comeback.”

And as if that's not bad enough, the soundtrack is one of the most horrid collections of Christmas song interpretations that I've ever heard, with the exception of a few classics. And John Debney provides his expected "happy" score, as though to remind us we are supposed to be happy when watching. Didn't work.

Perhaps director Joe Roth, who brought us The Exorcist III, isn’t accustomed to family fun and holiday hilarity. Or maybe Christmas is simply not Grisham’s forte, but one should not asses his best-selling book "Skipping Christmas" based on the movie version of it – so instead, I’ll blame screenwriter Chris Columbus, and still, that’s a hard thing to do when Columbus directed the first two Harry Potter films, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Home Alone.

Christmas with the Kranks is one of the reasons a person can’t describe a film with the term “heart-warming” and keep a straight face anymore. The whole idea of a feel-good flick has been scoffed at because of mindless, nonsensical drool like this.

Never mind adherence to intelligence or reason; forget about delivering some kind of Christmas package of themes about good will to men –KRANKS didn’t even bother to be funny.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 12/01/04 03:03:02
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User Comments

12/24/13 Michelle O Tim is a TOOL & Jamie is a LUG NUT 2 stars
10/23/09 Rachel Not the best comedy, but it definitely has some parts that make you laugh. 4 stars
10/22/08 Shaun Wallner Not all that funny. 1 stars
9/11/07 Daren As a sub I had to show this movie to several classes to pass time. I wanted to kill myself. 2 stars
2/03/07 X To quote the bloopers guy on Robot Chicken: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! 1 stars
1/28/07 William Goss To quote Jamie Lee: "Oh, dear God, this should be outlawed." Hypocritical and humor-free. 1 stars
1/07/07 Frank Rountree OK, but only rent it and watch it once. Tim Allen is good 3 stars
1/03/07 Ken Cain Pretty poor. Don't buy it. 2 stars
11/28/06 MickT anti-fascist and missunderstood,just like Starship Troopers. 3 stars
6/30/06 Ryan_A Even an OK cast can't save a terrible script and bad direction. Allen's typically awful. 1 stars
5/22/06 Diane P just okay for me the book was much better my daughter liked it she's 10 3 stars
4/11/06 Justin A pretty decent Christmas movie. Love Jamie & Tim! 4 stars
3/31/06 mike An Incredibly annoying movie. Just dumb. Only worse movie is cry wolf! 1 stars
1/07/06 JM Synth Fairly terrible, but it did have one of the better casts to hit the big screen in a while 2 stars
12/30/05 tony Its not Christmas Vacation and thats all im going to say 1 stars
12/27/05 Thelma G. calling this abomination crap is an insult to crap 1 stars
11/14/05 Joe Smaltz Really sucks, couldn't finnish it! 1 stars
11/12/05 tatum The Kranks should have spent the Xmas money on a funny script 1 stars
11/05/05 NoVaDJ I would have rather watched an old man write his name in excrement on a wall than this movi 1 stars
7/28/05 ellie it wasn't half bad 4 stars
6/15/05 Quigley quite possibly the worst movie ever to ugli-fy the theater screen 1 stars
5/13/05 Jennifer Regan Nice family movie, and very entertaining! 4 stars
4/29/05 Valerie Furr Kept me laughing and very enjoyable movie. 4 stars
4/23/05 Heather Tarlecky I thought it was worth seeing 4 stars
4/11/05 Ann Lemire Not Great 3 stars
4/10/05 Vince worst movie I've ever seen in theaters 1 stars
3/31/05 Katherine Frazier way too predictable 2 stars
3/25/05 craig varney terrible nonesense 1 stars
2/22/05 re morgan kill me once i finish my popcorn! 1 stars
1/31/05 Katherine Frazier Really boring movie 1 stars
1/18/05 Jeff Anderson WORTHLESS JUNK! If this is the way Xmas is really like in any known universe, WE'RE SCREWED 1 stars
12/30/04 Katie Evridge Entertaining film. Worth seeing if you need something to do for a few hours. 4 stars
12/29/04 Tom Ciorciari Inexcusable crap from those who really shold know better 1 stars
12/17/04 Desperado hey hayfever, it was there because Bush is an ignorant dipshit, so there 1 stars
12/13/04 hayfever Why the Bush-bashing in the Kyle review? That was unneeded. 1 stars
12/11/04 the Grinch Would you put Tim Allen in YOUR movie? 2 stars
12/09/04 lawhog44 Curtis/Aykroyd fans, you'll be a lot happier rewatching Trading Places. PS: Book sucks, too 1 stars
12/05/04 Tmccormick oh my god im going to shoot myself that was so bad 1 stars
11/27/04 KCobain Train wreck 1 stars
11/27/04 Steve Hazelwood Oh my dear lord...Did I pay money for that? 1 stars
11/27/04 Norman Kozlarek Trailer was sooo bad it pissed me off 1 stars
11/27/04 Naka No. Absolutely not. Never. Jesus. 1 stars
11/25/04 Whoop Whoop Sensationally awful. Enough to ensure Allen never acts again. 1 stars
11/25/04 Caiphn 'Hilarious and Fun'? Are you retarded? You are! 2 stars
11/25/04 Kristina Williams Jamie Lee Cutis must RETIRE. NOW. 1 stars
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  24-Nov-2004 (PG)
  DVD: 08-Nov-2005



Directed by
  Joe Roth

Written by
  Chris Columbus

  Tim Allen
  Jamie Lee Curtis
  Dan Aykroyd
  Erik Per Sullivan
  Cheech Marin
  Jake Busey

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