Holiday tale doesn’t ring true
“Christmas with the Kranks” lacks focus, characterization and humor. And in the end, I didn’t know if I felt more like Scrooge or the bearer of holiday cheer.
The movie’s core message revolves around neighbors rallying to support a middle-aged couple who insist on banning 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 store.
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 terminal cancer and Santa reveals his magic.
From the beginning, “Christmas with the Kranks” fails to ring true.
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago ” close to where the Kranks live ” so I understand Christmas pressure. We spent weeks beading and sequining ornaments, frosting cookies, hot-glueing pinecone wreaths, adorning matchbox covers with ribbon, building miniature trees out of Hershy’s kisses or generally creating my mom’s newest holiday inspiration. Meanwhile, my dad grudgingly lit up the evergreen at the end of the driveway to keep up with the Joneses.
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 Curtis into a ridiculously cardboard character.
As soon as I desensitized myself from the annoyingly static acting and over-the-top drama, Nora Krank changed her 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 family and friends incite me to unpack my 24 boxes of Christmas spirit and spread it throughout my house, or to feel relieved my Summit County neighbors’ houses remain dark this holiday season.
“Christmas with the Kranks” missed out on an opportunity to make audiences ” especially Christian Midwesterners ” laugh at the contortions they go through every December. By making the characters and situations a little less sit-commy 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 some of my 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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