Holiday Movie Month: "Christmas with the Kranks" Review

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

Holiday Movie Month: "Christmas with the Kranks" Review

Rating: PG (Brief language and suggestive content)
Length: 99 minutes
Release Date: November 24, 2004
Directed by:Joe Roth
Genre: Comedy/Family

Tim Allen stars as Luther Krank in "Christmas with the Kranks," a 2004 Christmas comedy. Jamie Lee Curtis stars opposite of Allen as Luther's wife, Nora. Luther has had more than enough of the materialistic holiday Christmas has become, and he's determined to start a new Krank family tradition. He plans a Christmas vacation with Nora, intending to put the stresses of gift buying and eating loads of food behind them. When their daughter makes an inconvenient last-minute surprise visit for the holidays, Luther finds himself forced to plan the biggest Christmas celebration yet. What was supposed to be a relaxing getaway quickly spirals into out-of-control Christmas chaos.

"Christmas with the Kranks" is far from just any run-of-the-mill holiday comedy. The film delves into some surprisingly deep subject matter, including the commercialism of the holidays, and the nature of celebrating once the kids have left the nest. Luther and Nora are more in love than ever, and they are beginning to realize that middle age could be some of the best years of their lives. To make the most of their holiday alone, they decide to take a break from their busy schedules and get some much-needed rest and relaxation. While they were prepared to have an empty nest, they weren't quite prepared for their daughter to come back so soon with a few surprises of her own.

The comedic timing in "Christmas with the Kranks" is perfect, leading to plenty of laughs and heartwarming moments. The acting is heartfelt without being over the top, and the Kranks will easily become a part of any Christmas movie marathon. The slapstick antics and accidents that occur over the course of the film are reminiscent of comedy classics like "A Christmas Story" and "Meet the Parents." Dan Aykroyd provides the film with a main antagonist as Vic Frohmeyer, Luther and Nora's fundamentalist and overzealous neighbor. Frohmeyer is constantly making political remarks to get under Luther's skin, while Nora takes a more even-keeled approach to life. Luther winds up dealing with not only unexpected party preparations but also a neighbor who insists the Kranks share his zeal for a good traditional Christmas.

Aside from the conflict between Luther and Vic, Luther and Nora find themselves at odds throughout the film. The stresses of the holidays are presented in a relatable and hilarious way throughout "Christmas with the Kranks." While Luther and Nora try their best to give their daughter the kind of Christmas she came to expect throughout her childhood, they are eventually forced to face the fact that things don't always go as planned. The couple must also realize that their daughter has grown up and is more capable of dealing with disappointment than they believe.

Tim Allen is a fan favorite when it comes to portraying the average Joe. His role as Tim the Toolman Taylor on the long-running 1990s sitcom "Home Improvement" lives on in "Christmas with the Kranks." While Tim and Luther are each unique characters in their own right, the two have enough in common to appeal to Allen's longtime fans. Luther is far more hot tempered and a perfectionist, although he has plenty of clumsy and bungling moments throughout the film. His well-intentioned antics are enough to charm even the toughest audience, and he makes a relatable and lovable protagonist in spite of his many flaws.

Meanwhile, Jamie Lee Curtis steals the show as Nora Krank. Nora is hilarious and strong willed, providing a much-needed counterweight to her stubborn husband. She is a high-powered attorney who never seems to stop working and start relaxing, so she experiences mixed feelings about her husband's idea to take the holidays off. When their daughter comes home, Nora faces her own stresses and obstacles as she struggles to keep her family sane and happy through the Christmas season. If the Kranks make it to New Year without a meltdown, Nora will consider herself lucky.

"Christmas with the Kranks" is an endearing and often underrated holiday film. The movie features all the ingredients of a great Christmas classic, including a lovable and believable family, great writing, and a Christmas-themed conundrum that will bring the family together with their worst enemies in time to experience the true meaning of Christmas. From themes of selflessness to accepting that things don't always go the way they should, "Christmas with the Kranks" offers up as many laughs as it does positive moral values.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5