It attempts too much
“Christmas with the Kranks” lacks focus, characterization and humor. In the end, I didn’t know if I felt more like Scrooge or a bearer of holiday cheer.The movie’s core message revolves around neighbors rallying to support a middle-aged couple who bans all bells and bright, shiny whistles associated with Christmas, then change their minds when they unexpectedly find out their daughter’s coming home from Peru for the holiday.Viewed from the simple message of love and community, it seems uplifting. But in-between, the movie packs in more random and useless distractions than a fully-stocked Wal-Mart.
Let’s just unwrap a few of the surprises that distract rather than delight: Luther Krank (Tim Allen) goes too big on botox, Frosty channels “The Exorcist,” Christmas crime makes a comeback, and just to tug at our heartstrings, a neighbor deals with cancer.In short, “Christmas with the Kranks” fails to ring true.I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, so I understand Christmas pressure. We spent weeks beading ornaments, frosting cookies, hotglueing pinecone wreaths, adorning matchbox covers with ribbon, building miniature Hershey’s kisses trees or generally creating our newest holiday inspiration. Meanwhile, my dad grudgingly lit up the evergreen at the end of the driveway to keep up with the Jones.’
But Nora Krank’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) rigidity exceeds anything I’ve ever encountered in the Midwest. Rather than develop a witty satire on consumerism and conformity, the script boxes her into a ridiculous character. As soon as I desensitized myself from the static acting and over-the-top drama, Nora changed course and turned into Mrs. Christmas.Simultaneously, the movie turned from a comment on bucking the norm to one big happy community following the same traditions year after year.
I didn’t know whether to feel sad I no longer live in Chicago where loved ones incite me to unpack my 24 boxes of Christmas spirit and spread it throughout my house or whether to feel relieved my current neighbors’ houses remain dark this month.By making the movie a little less sit-comy and a little more real, producers could’ve pulled off a sleigh-load of chuckles and still slid in some sentimental Christmas warm fuzzies.Luckily, my Midwestern parents visited me this morning to clear up confusion the movie caused: It’s my first Christmas in a new house, and though my priorities lie in staining my fireplace mantel and grouting my tiled stairs above stringing garland, my dad insists I put up a tree.
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