Christmas comes but once a year, and you’ll be grateful for that fact after watching Christmas With The Kranks. This lame yuletide comedy, bizarrely based on a John Grisham novel, stars Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis as a pair of latter-day Scrooges who decide to opt out of the festive rituals. This makes them pariahs in the eyes of their all-American neighbours, who hound them with a frenzy that’s anything but seasonal. See Joe Roth’s movie and you’ll understand the true demeaning of Christmas.
Grisham’s original novel was called Skipping Christmas, but the title had to be changed to avoid confusion with the Ben Affleck clunker Surviving Christmas. Kranks isn’t quite the turkey that film is, but you’ll still need an awful lot of eggnog to tolerate its strained farce, laboured slapstick and sickly sentimental finale.
For those fed up with the crass commercialism that surrounds Jesus’s birthday, Luther and Nora Krank’s decision to save their cash for a luxury cruise will seem the height of good sense. Not according to busybody Vic Frohmeyer (Dan Aykroyd), however, who beseiges the Krank household with carol singers, nagging kids and charity collectors in an attempt to change their minds.
“IT WILL LEAVE YOU AS CRANKY AS ITS HEROES”
Had Roth and writer Chris Columbus persisted with their mean-spirited set-up, Kranks might have offered a welcome antidote to the usual yuletide mush. Sadly, they quickly lose the courage of their convictions, with Allen and Curtis conveniently realising the error of their ways in time for a tacky Christmas Eve blowout.
Unless you get a kick out of blinking lights, tree baubles and bell-ringing Santas, Christmas With The Kranks will leave you as misanthropic and, yes, as cranky as its heroes. All that’s left is to marvel at Aykroyd’s bald spot, Allen’s ever-expanding waistline and Jamie Lee’s urgent need of a personal trainer.