Monday, November 27, 2006
Christmas with the Kranks
This past weekend I watched the movie "Christmas with the Kranks". Now let me preface this review by saying that I am a huge fan of the John Grisham novel, "Skipping Christmas", upon which this movie is based, so I definitely had some preconceived notions about the film.
"Christmas with the Kranks" stars Tim Allen as Luther Krank. Luther and his wife Nora (played by Jamie Lee Curtis), are depressed this holiday season. Why? Because their only child, Blair, has gone off to Peru for a year with the Peace Corps.
After a morning of adding up the expenses of the previous Christmas (which tallied up to a whopping 6000 dollars), Luther has a brainstorm. He proposes to Nora that they simply skip Christmas this year. Without Blair around what fun would Christmas be anyway? An instead of spending 6000 dollars on trees and cards and gifts for everyone else, Luther suggests that they spend the money on themselves-- to go on a Caribbean cruise.
At first, Luther's wife says no way. But when he explains to her that the cruise, at 3000 dollars, would actually cost half the price of a traditional Christmas, Nora becomes intrigued. They decide to book the cruise and go on diets. The cruise is set to leave on Christmas day.
The first order of business is to notify everyone that they will not be celebrating Christmas. Luther types up a memo for all of his work colleagues, explaining that he will not be participating in any company holiday events and will not be giving or accepting any Christmas gifts. Nora tells the same thing to her friends over a luncheon, and they are stunned that the Kranks will not be hosting their annual Christmas Eve party.
Things go haywire quickly when Luther snubs the local Cub Scout Christmas tree sale. Even Nora can't bear the thought of not having a tree, but Luther is firm: no Christmas decorating whatsoever.
That doesn't sit too well with neighborhood head honcho, Vic Frohmeyer (played hilariously by Dan Akroyd). Frohmeyer heads the annual neighborhood Christmas decorating committee and he expects everyone on his street to put a gigantic plastic Frosty the Snowman decoration on top of their roof. Luther has done it in the past, but this year he refuses to pull Frosty out of hiding. This leads to a hilarious confrontation between the Kranks and their angry neighbors.
Luther and Nora diet during the decadent holiday season and Luther even begins tanning at a local tanning salon (not a pretty sight). They are all ready to skip Christmas and head to the sunny Caribbean-- until they get a Christmas Eve phone call that changes everything.
Blair, their only child, misses them terribly and will be coming home for Christmas after all. She has gotten a leave and will be bringing her new fiance to meet the family for Christmas. She can't wait to come home and see the tree and the big Christmas Eve party. She'll be home in 12 hours.
Luther and Nora have to scramble to scrap their cruise plans and instead set up for their usual Christmas Eve party. With little time to spare, they have to decorate the house, buy gifts, scour the town for a Christmas tree and for some party food-- and worst of all they have to rummage up some guests for their annual gig!
And with all hope of going on their precious cruise completely gone (Blair would feel terrible if she knew they planned to go away), Luther does something that truly symbolizes the spirit of Christmas.
Now of course if you are a fan of the book it is easy to compare this movie to the story. I admit when I first read the book, I could see the move playing out before me and I didn't picture the movie to be the way that it turned out at all. But I must say I was pleasantly surprised. At first I couldn't imagine Allen and Curtis as the lead characters (I imagined Luther and Nora to be a little older), but I think they portrayed the Kranks really well. I really enjoyed this movie and expect that watching "Christmas with the Kranks" will become a Christmas tradition in my family.