November 24, 2004: Headlines: COS - Peru: Movies: "Christmas With The Kranks" with Peace Corps character not so bad after all says

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Peru: Peace Corps Peru: The Peace Corps in Peru: November 24, 2004: Headlines: COS - Peru: Movies: "Christmas With The Kranks" with Peace Corps character not so bad after all says

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"Christmas With The Kranks" with Peace Corps character not so bad after all says

Christmas With The Kranks with Peace Corps character not so bad after all says

"Christmas With The Kranks" with Peace Corps character not so bad after all says

Christmas With The Kranks

Films Reviews from a Christian Perspective

by Phil Boatwright

Christmas With The Kranks. Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Julie Gonzalo, Dan Aykroyd, Cheech Marin, Jake Busey, M. Emmet Walsh. Columbia/Revolution Studios. Comedy. W- Chris Columbus. D-Joe Roth (who also heads Revolution Studios). Opens 11/24/04

In Revolution Studios' new comedy “Christmas With The Kranks,” based on John Grisham’s best-selling novel “Skipping Christmas,” Tim Allen plays Luther Krank, a man who decides to skip Christmas in favor of a Caribbean cruise when his daughter joins the Peace Corps. After convincing his wife (Jamie Lee Curtis) that this is the answer to their depression, the trip departure is planned for December 25th. One small problem: the neighborhood, led by a fascist-like suburb monitor (Dan Aykroyd), objects to their leaving. The block depends on the Kranks to decorate their house like everyone else on the street. Plus, there’s the annual party the Kranks have always hosted. Going away is simply unacceptable.

Risking the community alienation their vacation seems to be causing, the Kranks forge ahead, escaping the traditions of the holidays. Then on Christmas Eve the phone rings. The daughter has decided she’s coming home that night with a little surprise of her own. Not wanting to disappoint his child, Luther is forced to put Christmas back together. But he can’t do it alone. Will his neighbors help, even though he’s been a Christmas stinker?

Ever see “The Out-Of-Towners” with Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis? It’s a story about a loving couple whose vacation to the Big Apple is fraught with calamity. The comedy is siphoned from their discomfort. Well, humor farmed from pain takes a unique handling. The Three Stooges could do it. The “Out-Of-Towners” couldn’t. For Lutherand Nora Krank, it’s hit and miss.

While Luther Krank isn’t exactly Ebenezer Scrooge, he is self-centered, bullheaded and thoughtless of others. He’s a man who must learn some life lessons. But before a man can learn those life lessons, the fates must grab his attention. How do they do that? In this movie, it’s done with slapstick falls off roofs, slidings on ice, getting burned to a crisp at a suntan salon, getting drenched in the pouring rain, etc. Some of these broad gags work, but many of the setups are so telegraphed that we’re way ahead of the comic payoffs. The humor is nearly as subtle as the whopping holes in the story’s logic.

Okay, that’s the Grinch in me. There is another viewpoint, just as valid. While it’s no “Christmas Story,” “Christmas With the Kranks” does manage to satisfy that craving for a holiday film treat. The film was appreciated by many adults at the press screening, and was met by guffaws from the littlest audience members. Leaving the theater I overheard a little girl say to her dad, “Daddy, will this be on DVD by Christmas?”

While unsubtle humor leaves me cold (come on, the crabby protagonist is named Krank), there are some satisfying comic moments. What’s more, it’s always great to see Dan Aykroyd and M. Emmet Walsh in movies. This one is also peppered with amusing appearances from Tom Poston, Austin Pendleton, and Cheech Marin. And it has a genuinely moving final third, with an absolutely delightful ending. Though it’s not in the league with “Miracle on 34th Street,” I can honestly say that “Christmas With The Kranks” is festive fun for the whole family.

PG (no objectionable language, and though there are a couple of sexual innuendos, the comments are between man and wife, making it a positive statement about their long-lasting relationship; a minister gaps at a bikini clad Nora, but not out of lust, but rather surprised at seeing the scantily clad woman in the middle of winter so dressed in a store window; the film also has several drinking scenes; assorted pratfalls and slapstick violence).

When this story was posted in November 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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