Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

A review by Nalini Haynes

This is a spoilery review. You have been warned.

Tis the season to go nuts because it’s Christmas. Christmas with the Kranks. In this movie, very loosely based on the superior John Grisham novella by the same name, the Kranks are a middle aged couple who decide to save over $6,000 and skip Christmas festivities to take a cruise instead.

Their innovative choice offends friends and work colleagues alike, with many comments about ‘Scrooge’ foreshadowing the end.

Neighbors feud. As does a cat. Vic Frohmeyer (Dan Ackroyd) stands outside the Kranks’ home inciting a protest to ‘Free Frosty’, a Christmas decoration. Kids join in the fun.

In the true spirit of Christmas movies, the Kranks submit to the spirit of the season instead of sticking to their original plan. Although Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) is delighted, Luther Krank (Tim Allen) remains somewhat cranky at the idea until even he sees the error of his ways like Scrooge. It’s the journey that is heartwarming and funny with many levels of humor, from satirical to slapstick in Home Alone style.

Back when I first watched the movie and read the book I leant more towards the ‘Christmas spirit’ side of things although I’ve suffered opprobrium for insufficient funds to comply with expectations. Nowadays I lean more towards ‘to hell with it, do what you want’ so portraying two non-conformists adults being censured for their difference is not as funny as it used to be. The message of the movie: Christmas is a social contract that must be upheld for good relationships between neighbours like repairing a stone wall between an apple orchard and pine trees.

Christmas with the Kranks has held its own fairly well although kids using police radio instead of mobile phones indicates its age. If you’re looking for a safe-for-family-viewing fun Christmas movie, Christmas with the Kranks may be just what Santa ordered.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Director: Joe Roth
Writers: John Grisham (novel), Chris Columbus (screenplay)
Stars: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd
Running time: 1 hr 39 minutes

Christmas with the Kranks