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Still shot from the movie: Christmas with the Kranks.

Christmas with the Kranks

Tired of the traditional holiday trimmings, Luther Krank (Tim Allen) decides to trade Santa Claus for a tropical cruise. Despite opposition from his neighbors and wife (Jamie Lee Curtis), nothing is going to change his mind--until his gets a call from his grown daughter (Julie Gonzalo). Get the movie review and more. »

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Overall: B
Violence: B
Sexual Content: B+
Language: A-
Drugs/Alcohol: B
Run Time: 99
Theater Release: 22 Nov 2004
Video Release: 07 Nov 2005
MPAA Rating: PG
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It started off as such a good idea that even I'm tempted to follow in the footsteps of Mr. Krank. In a moment of justifiable selfishness, Luther Krank (Tim Allen) decides to flush Christmas and all its usual trimmings, in favor of a tropical get-a-way with his wife. Doing the math he discovers they would actually save money lying on a beach somewhere as opposed to celebrating the season in their suburban Chicago home.

At first Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) is reluctant. What about their famous Christmas Eve party? Decorations? Gift exchanges with friends? But upon seeing her husband's determination, and the fact their daughter has decided to spend the holiday season with the Peace Corps in Peru, even she can't find a good reason not to trade Clause for a cruise.

What the couple doesn't take into account is the reaction of everyone around them. Luther's coworkers immediately give him the moniker of Scrooge when he declines to participate in the usual office merriment. At home, things are literally even frostier.

Their Riverside community prides itself on decking their halls... inside and out, including a seven foot illuminated snowman on the rooftop of every home. However, after being accused of hating Christmas when he doesn't purchase a tree from the local boy scouts, Luther figures enough is enough. In consequence, he refuses to bring the big white guy out of the basement... even if it won't cost him anything.

The locals are incensed. Riled up by domineering do-gooder Vic Frohmeyer (Dan Aykroyd), protests begin on the Krank's sidewalk, demanding that the hard-hearted couple release Frosty so their house won't be the one dark spot on the street. Still, the Kranks hold firm to their resolve... or at least Luther does. Nora isn't so sure, especially after her priest catches sight of her at the local tanning salon in the new skimpy bikini provided by her husband.

But all their bravado is blown to bits with one little phone call--their daughter has decided to come home for the holidays to introduce them to her fianc0xE9. With just hours until her arrival, somehow Christmas must be resurrected. Fortunately, the neighbors are only too happy to help pitch in and make the miracle happen.

With the odd mix of a John Girsham novel (yes, amazingly, the man known for legal thrillers penned Skipping Christmas, the book on which this film is based) and Home Alone director Chris Columbus acting as screenwriter, this film sincerely attempts to help audiences appreciate the importance of giving instead of receiving. And, aside from that bikini and some verbal canoodling between the married couple, there is nothing here to keep families from enjoying the fun.

Turning crusty cranks into sensitive saints is the stuff of all good Christmas movies. In this case, the film's biggest flaw may be that Mr. Krank isn't quite kranky enough. You can hardly fault a man for wanting to spend a little time with his wife, and get away from the bustle of parties, presents, and punchbowls. I must confess, I've toyed with the idea myself. Although the script provides an example of true Christmas spirit in the end, the sympathy the viewer may or may not have for the dilemma presented here will depend largely on what priorities they hold dear at this festive time of the year.

Christmas with the Kranks is rated PG: for brief language and suggestive content

Cast: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd
Studio: 2004 Sony Pictures

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About the Reviewer: Rod Gustafson

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