Friday, December 25, 2015

Let's Review a Movie: Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates!  My gift is a review of an awful movie!

First off I know this was based off John Grisham’s novel Skipping Christmas, but I have not read that book so I don’t know if the reason this movie sucks is because it was a perfect adaptation of an awful story, even brilliant artists create duds every now and then it happens,  or if it went rotten during the writing of the script or the production, but in any case this movie still sucks.

And that’s a shame because I like Tim Allen’s acting and I like Jamie Lee Curits' work too.  But here Nora comes off as spineless because she is clearly uncomfortable with the whole idea of skipping Christmas.  She likes the holiday, because she is shown in her Christmas vest in the dinner scene where Luther tells her about taking a cruise when he is still in regular clothes.  She doesn’t want to tan and from her volunteer efforts and her ultimatum that they still give charity for Christmas or no cruise she clearly embraces the good will towards your fellow man idea that embodies the season.  So Nora if you don’t want to go on the cruise just say so and don’t go!  Of course this is the same person who gets her husband to go get baking supplies from the market instead of just getting them herself considering she knows what she needs and how to find it, taking charge and being assertive are clearly not her strong suits.  Although I do like the gag of Luther and the umbrella this movie did get me to laugh at least once.

But now we get to Luther oh god Luther.  In a movie filled to the brim with assholes this guy takes the cake.  At one point he says his plan to boycott Christmas isn’t about the money, but it clearly is since the first thing he did upon seeing the cruise advertisement was to add up how much money he and Nora spent on Christmas.  He uses the extra money on selfish stuff like tanning and Botox, and that scene with him eating while his face is frozen is disgusting, and hell even in the opening he seems more concerned with the inconvenience of being at the airport on the busiest traveling day of the year than that fact that his daughter is leaving.  Also the letter he gives to everyone in the office bugs me so much.  Not just because it’s completely unnecessary, seriously just go with your cruise plan and when anybody asks you about holiday plans say since Blair’s away you’ve decided to do something different this year and take a vacation problem solved.  It’s that like the opening at the airport it highlights that Luther is just...cold I guess is the word I want.  As he narrates the letter his voice and body language just comes off as smug and annoyed.  It’s as if with his daughter away the whole Christmas deal is something he no longer has to bother with.   If the holiday was that much a chore for you why participate?  Just like with Nora why didn’t Luther grow a backbone and say he doesn’t want to participate in the holiday festivities long ago it’s just not something he enjoys.  And again that seems to be the case because putting up decorations and accepting gifts from others has nothing to do with money since it’s stuff he already owns and things he gets for free from other people.  He wants a total boycott when that isn’t necessary to save money during Christmas.

Then there’s everybody else and I do mean everybody.   From the people at the newspaper who apparently think people taking a vacation during Christmas is somehow front page news to Luther’s co-worker that gets mad because she isn’t getting a bottle of perfume this year.  From the police and the boys scouts who get mad that Luther doesn’t buy his usual tree and calendar.  Charity isn’t mandatory no matter how many times you’ve donated before and tattling to Herb just makes you look like a bunch of four year olds.   Then there’s Herb, why does he care so much about what his neighbours do and don’t do during Christmas?  Why is skipping Christmas such a crime?  I mean what if Bev and Walt decided they didn’t want to do anything big for Christmas since the cancer was back they wanted to take it easy and put aside money for final arrangements?  What if that one neighbour visiting his in laws for Christmas day decided that since they would be away for that part of the holiday he wasn’t going to get a tree, now is it okay?  And the speech after Luther falls off the roof augh!  You’ve been harassing these two for weeks on end and now I’m supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy because they finally caved and did what you wanted because Blair is coming home no just no.   This film is just dripping in conformity and commercialism.  That’s it’s all about decorations, and gifts, and trees and it’s not.  It’s about being kind and good to one another and that happens only once in the entire film. 

So with all that said I do like a couple of things with the end of the film.  I find the ending gag with no one knowing know who Marty was funny, though him being Santa falls flat and isn’t needed.  It certainly looks nice with all the lights and decorations on all the houses.  Finally the scene at the end where Luther gives the trip to Walt and Bev is a gem.  That is a perfect example of the spirit of the season with him giving a gift to two people he thinks deserve something nice to share in the time they have left.  I even got a chuckle out of the 'does this mean we have to start liking each other' exchange.  Also with the line about how Bev and Walt’s son hasn’t been home in years there was even a nugget of an idea about why Luther and Nora have put on such a grand show for Blair during the holidays. They want this time to be special for her so Blair will always feel that she can come home for the holidays.  Too bad we didn’t develop that into a story instead of spending this entire time being told that people don’t who celebrate Christmas the way you do are wrong.

Conclusion: no deviation from the consensus for me this movie is awful.  I like the opening gag with the umbrella and the last ten minutes and that’s it.  Everything in the middle is just mean spirited, petty, selfish, and in essence everything the holidays should not be.  In short you want a movie that will put you in the holiday spirit go watch something else.

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