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Skip Christmas With The Kranks!

Arthur J Pais in New York | November 26, 2004 17:02 IST

A still from Christmas With The KranksThank heavens films like The Incredibles are still around. For if we were to depend on films such as Christmas With The Kranks to liven the holiday scene, we would be in for a big bout of depression.

Mirthless and unfunny, the film could still see some business thanks to Tim Allen who has brought cheer to the holiday season earlier with two Santa Claus movies. Not to forget that Kranks is based on a non-thriller by John Grisham called Skipping Christmas, a bestseller and was scripted by Chris Columbus (also known for directing two Harry Potter and two Home Alone films).

Kranks could have been made into a black comedy like last year's surprise hit Bad Santa. But the filmmakers here want to focus on the nastiness in a small town triggered inadvertently by Christmas, and then proceed to celebrate the Christmas spirit, as if to atone for the earlier happenings.

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The film just doesn't convince us that the nosy and self-righteous people of a small town can punish a couple just because they are skipping Christmas for a good reason -- and that too for the first time.

Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis play the Kranks couple -- Luther and Nora -- who decide to forego Christmas festivities and take a Caribbean cruise. One of the key reasons for their decision is that their daughter (Julie Gonzalo) is working in the Peace Corps during the holidays.

Their seemingly innocent decision has a very different effect on Hemlock Street in the Chicago suburb of Riverside. The meddling town folks, including Vic Frohmeyer (Dan Aykroyd), come to know about the decision and soon everyone is talking about the couple as if they have violated the 10 Commandments on Christmas Eve.

A still from Christmas With The KranksThe Kranks have to face prank calls, insults, vicious gossip and much more. How can they not erect a snowman, some of their friends and neighbours want to know.

In the face of hostilities around them, Luther Krank adopts a belligerent and defiant attitude towards the neighbours.

With all the terrible things going around them, the Kranks get one more problem: their daughter suddenly announces she will be home for the festivities.

Finally, the movie settles down for some scenes that are supposed to elevate the mood. But there is hardly any sparkle in the film. For a minute or two, there is genuine fun when a Botox injection not only distorts Allen's face but also causes unexpected problems. Given the dull proceedings, the Botox scene becomes the film's only genuine highlight.

Allen, not a very good actor to start with, sleep walks through the film. And Curtis, who was in great form in Freaky Friday not too long ago, is in the wrong film this time. Aykroyd is too melodramatic but Cheech Martin, who has had many problems with the police in his life, is fairly amusing as the police officer.

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