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Reviews, The Snooty Ushers Christmas

56 Days, 56 Christmas Films: Day 38 – Christmas With The Kranks


So, it took until day 38, but i’ve had to switch a couple of films around. In a change to the previously advertised film (tomorrow will be White Christmas, fingers crossed), both Tim Allen (The Santa Clause) and Jamie Lee Curtis (Trading Places) have already appeared in this Countdown, and this John Grisham (yep, the John Grisham) adaptation sees them teaming up.

And today it’s…

7th December, Day 38

Christmas With The Kranks (Joe Roth, 2004)

christmas with the kranks poster

The day after Thanksgiving, a tear-eyed Nora Krank (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her “too-proud-to-cry” husband Luther (Tim Allen) head to the airport to see off their daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo). She has joined the Peace Corp and is going to Peru, meaning that she will not be home for Christmas for the first time. After a particularly miserable shopping experience, Luther comes up with the idea of going away on a cruise, which he realises they can afford if Nora agrees to just one condition – they save the money by not celebrating Christmas. It won’t be the same without Blair being there, so why not? Nora agrees, and the Kranks start preparing for their cruise, but raise the suspicion of their neighbours by not preparing for Christmas.

With everyone expecting them to take part in festivities, the Kranks find it harder and harder to stick to their guns. Neighbour Vic Frohmeyer (the great Dan Aykroyd) takes the lead, arranging a Frosty Fest that involves the whole neighbourhood putting up Frosty the Snowman decorations, and bugging the Kranks to get involved. There’s also Carol singers, scouts selling Christmas trees, and policemen selling calenders for charity – all testing the Kranks’ resolve to the limits. Then, on Christmas Eve, Blair announces she is coming home for Christmas – can the Kranks now put together a traditional Christmas at the last minute?

MCDCHWI EC001

Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis are the Kranks

Your mileage will vary with this film, and I’m not just talking about the happy ending, because that is what this type of film is always going to have one. There is a great premise that the film wimps out on half way through. It looks like the Kranks are going to become pariahs after their decision to skip Christmas starts to alienate them from their neighbours, with a hint of things getting nasty, with Dan Aykroyd’s character being introduced as a rather sinister character before not really following through on the potential. I feel that would have been a more satisfying route for the film to take. Nora’s friends are also introduced but then don’t reappear, which make me feel like they had a bigger storyline cut out.

Still, instead we get a middle section packed with physical comedy, but since  both Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis really commit, it’s still very enjoyable. There’s a botox scene that is rather obvious but is very funny. Similarly, Curtis in the supermarket isn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff, but she is such a talented actress it made me laugh out loud. Compared to the rather tired Christmas Vacation, which treads on similar territory, it was much more fun.

There are plenty of other moments that made me chuckle as well, particularly an “it’s not even Saturday night” aside. There’s also an unintentional bit of comedy, when The Minute Waltz plays over a sequence of Luther going into work, which brings up memories of Just A Minute for some Ushers. And a genuinely heartwarming storm involving the cranky neighbours played by M. Emmet Walsh and Elizabeth Franz adds a nice wrinkle to the mix.

Overall, I give this

three-gold-rings

3 Gold Rings Out of 5

This is definitely entertaining. My only real issue was that I though it was going slightly darker than it did, but still, Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis are fun enough to pass 90 minutes with.

The space continuum should be righted tomorrow when I watch WHITE CHRISTMAS!

Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.

that's all folks

PS Here’s my list so far.

31st October, Day 1: The Nightmare Before Christmas
1st November, Day 2: Rocky IV
2nd November, Day 3: Edward Scissorhands
3rd November, Day 4: Trading Places
4th November, Day 5Batman Returns
5th November, Day 6: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
6th November, Day 7: Gremlins
7th November, Day 8: Eyes Wide Shut
8th November, Day 9: Love Actually
9th November, Day 10: Lethal Weapon
10th November, Day 11: Die Hard / Die Hard 2
11th November, Day 12: About A Boy
12th November, Day 13: Trapped In Paradise
13th November, Day 14: Reindeer Games
14th November, Day 15: Joyeux Noel
15th November, Day 16: Nativity / Nativity 2 / Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?
16th November, Day 17: Jack Frost
17th November, Day 18: Jack Frost
18th November, Day 19: Arthur Christmas
19th November, Day 20: The Santa Clause / The Santa Clause 2 / The Santa Clause 3
20th November, Day 21: Miracle On 34th Street
21st November, Day 22: Miracle On 34th Street 
22nd November, Day 23: Scrooged
23rd November, Day 24: Scrooge
24th November, Day 25: The Muppets Christmas Carol
25th November, Day 26: Elf
26th November, Day 27: Home Alone / Home Alone 2
27th November, Day 28: The Grinch
28th November, Day 29: Black Christmas
29th November, Day 30: Jingle All The Way
30th November, Day 31: Rare Exports
1st December, Day 32: Polar Express
2nd December, Day 33: A Christmas Story
3rd December, Day 34: Bad Santa
4th December, Day 35: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
5th December, Day 36: Santa Claus: The Movie
6th December, Day 37: Krampus
7th December, Day 38: Christmas With The Kranks

#56ChristmasFilmsIn56Days

About Snooty Usher James

Favourite Film: This Is Spinal Tap (1984) Least Favourite Film: Probably the American version of One Missed Call (2008) Guilty Pleasure: No Holds Barred (1989) I'm the exile of the group, after living in the South for a couple of years I've now moved to Edinburgh to start the next chapter. I've got a wide ranging love of film and TV, but I am definitely the fourth usher in terms of film knowledge. I do however have a stack of DVDs to work through, and both a Netflix and an Amazon Prime subscription with which to get involved. So, even if my job means I don't get to see as many of the new releases as I would like, I hope to be able to chip in with some reviews of my own. My other hobbies include playing the guitar, trying to play the ukulele, Football Manager and Radio 4. I'm also a big fan of wrestling. Part of that means that I have a bunch of ideas for columns that I have stolen from various parts of IWC, so look out for them. But hey, enough of my yacking. What do you say.....let's boogie.

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