With their daughter away for Christmas, the Kranks decide to skip it all together, save some money, and go for a luxury cruise much to the annoyance of their neighbors. That is until their daughter surprises them on Christmas Eve. Can they turn it around and save Christmas before it’s too late? Find out in… Christmas with the Kranks.
How?! When Luther and Nora Krank’s only daughter heads off to Peru with the Peace Corps it seems like Christmas just won’t be the same. In a stroke of genius Luther concocts a scheme where they will boycott the entire holiday, save some money, and go on a luxury cruise instead. This plan immediately runs into trouble as they boycott the firemen, police officers, and boy scouts who come for the normal charity and kindness they’ve come to expect from the Kranks in the holiday season. Not this year, freeloaders! No retreat and no surrender! They particularly miff their holiday obsessed neighbors when they refuse to decorate their house along with everyone else. After suffering the entire community’s scorn they get tantalizingly close to their cruise only to get a call from their daughter surprising them with a holiday visit with her new fiance she met in Peru! Oh no! Scrambling around they find themselves unable to get guests or decorations together for a last minute Christmas Eve party. Looking for one last dose of holiday cheer Luther attempts to put up a giant Frosty decoration on his house, but nearly dies in the process. Seeing this near death experience the neighbors band together to put on the party and give the Krank clan a Christmas they’ll never forget. The End.
Why?! This is actually an interesting question. Everyone kind of assumes that they decide to skip Christmas to save a quick buck, which obviously rubs everyone the wrong way. It’s no wonder they think this either since both Luther and Nora use this excuse throughout the film. While it’s made more explicit in the book, the reality is that Luther just doesn’t really like Christmas. He thinks it’s wasteful and stressful and is basically just protesting the season. He doesn’t like the peer pressure to participate that is heaped on them by their neighbors and he wants to show how much better it is to just skip it. Spoiler alert, though, it turns out skipping it is much more stressful than actually doing it. So I guess the moral of the story is that peer pressure works really well.
What?! For a Christmas movie this was surprisingly bereft of product placement. I would note an interesting thing about the Frosty prop used in the film. IMDb claims that it was Tim Allen’s dad’s Frosty that is used in a huge number of different films. This cannot possibly be true. First, the book has the Frosty plotline, which would be super coincidental. Second, the Frosty prop is now on display in a Christmas film prop show currently in Akron. Third, there is zero evidence online to corroborate this absurd claim. For shame, IMDb.
Who?! Dedicate “in loving memory” to Alan King, a famous comedian who died the year of its release. He apparently shot some scenes in the role of Luther’s boss, but they ended up on the cutting room floor. He also has a dedication in the credits of Rush Hour 3, which is an interesting double billing. The Alan King Double Feature.
Where?! Riverside, Illinois is the home of the Kranks. Noted by a local newspaper and police. Lots of license plates around as well. Solid, but not over the top. B.
When?! A+ Setting Alert! Again, nothing like a holiday film to open the door for some title integration. Made me wonder if there is any example of a film with a double A+ setting. Both a place and a time integrated in title. A Christmas title is the best opportunity. Something like A New York Christmas or something. Autumn in New York is a good one Patrick found, but I’m not sure how I would grade that. I know how to grade this, though. A+.
I took one for the team this week and read the novella on which this film is based, Skipping Christmas by John Grisham (yes, that John Grisham). For the most part the film is an exact adaptation, made possible by the low page count. The only additions were some slapstick stunts like the freezing of a cat, which were probably deemed necessary since the book is mostly a story of a bunch of assholes being assholes to each other (with some snark thrown in here and there). I have to note one glaring omission: in the book when the Kranks hear that their daughter is bringing her new Peruvian fiance to Christmas they take a moment to note that many Peruvians are dark-skinned… alrighty. I thought I had misread it. But, then when he shows up they note with glee that he’s not dark-skinned at all, but is in fact lighter than Luther… sufficed to say that didn’t make it into the film. Nothing like a bit of casual racism to get you in the holiday spirit. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Your production company is feeling that itch for some corporate synergy. They’re wondering if a Christmas movie could be made that as a bit more … apologetic towards the rampant commercialization of the holiday season. You’ve got a can-do attitude, right?! Grab your John Grisham novel, and milk that sweet IP! Let’s get into it!
The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – Tim Allen pulls off the grumpy-dad character quite well. And while the message is gross, the ultimate pay off in the end kind of makes it all understandable. Also, credit where credit is due, I did not see the rather emotional twist at the end coming. I think I want to see the Sequel! That’s right, in the intervening years, while Blair and Enrique have come to Chicago every year for the big Christmas bash, this year Blair is pregnant and can’t travel from, you guessed it, Peru! So the Kranks are going on vacation. It’s a culture clash for the ages as the Kranks meet the Decardenals (holy shit, he has a last name!) and have a true blue peruvian Christmas! Christmas with the Kranks 2: Meet the Decardenals!
The Bad (Sklognalogy) – The message is pretty gross as all of the reviews say. Even then, the movie is kind of two movies smushed together. The first half is all about them skipping Christmas (and honestly, being jerks about it … like, you are saving $3K, you can’t give a donation to the cops, c’mon!), and then halfway through they realize they can’t anymore, so it kind of kicks into high gear at that point. As far as Christmas films go, this might be the worst I’ve seen (Saving Christmas doesn’t count), but it still has the charm of being about family and fun and Christmas. You just wish it wasn’t so heavy-handed and gross about greed-is-good mentality of embracing Christmas materialism. The Sklognalogy is … well, avoiding the obvious, let’s go with The Guardian starring Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner. Another movie that feels like two movies smushed together and ultimately fails to be particularly good versions of either movie it is trying to be.
The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I think this could have major ramifications for BMT, but it depends on whether we are willing to sacrifice some BMT Live action. Primarily because … I think this movie could have been really fun to watch around Christmas. Which makes me think we could have three BMT Lives and a BMT Holiday extravaganza instead. If that happens, this movie will make a turning point in BMT. Otherwise, none, perfectly forgettable beyond being a not-at-all-secret BMT Holiday film. It does get a few shouts as a top ten worst holiday film. And gets shouts as one of the worst films of 2004. In other words, this had the cred. Like Deck the Halls, it had to be done as an all-time bad holiday film.
Before I go I want to do a brief analysis on the “friend” from this pair. In this case we were testing the waters concerning Christian Films, by watching Saving Christmas, breaking an unspoken BMT rule in the process. So, did we prove the rule by watching the exception and realizing even the extremes still barely qualify? Or are more religious films coming soon to a BMT near you? … Personally, it is the exception that proves the rule. Christian films are low quality, and just make me angry with what is often a disingenuous holier-than-thou attitude. Our unspoken rule of really only doing those once in a lifetime movies seems a-ok to me at this point. This is a BMT film, but it is also probably the biggest one ever released (not counting something like Passion of the Christ I suppose) … and it still barely qualifies. So doubtful any others are really worth it.