I’m writing this blog post on Friday 27th December, and frankly at this point, I’m pretty much done with the holiday season. Written So a dose of cynical, anti-festive black comedy could have been just the ticket to ease me through the post-yuletide comedown. Sadly, Christmas With The Kranks is not that movie.
It could have been, though. Written and produced by Chris Columbus (Mrs Doubtfire, Home Alone, Gremlins) and starring talented screen comics Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Ackroyd, the materials were all in place. Whether the final script was a rush-job or something that had been sitting at the bottom of a drawer for a while, the end product is an overstuffed Christmas turkey that leaves its cast mugging helplessly in search of non-existent jokes and painfully crowbarred-in sentiment.
The premise is promising enough. After their only daughter jets off to Peru for a year to join the Peace Corps, empty nesters Luther and Nora Krank take stock of their annual festive over-spending and decide to skip the Holiday season entirely. The money they’d usually spend on presents and decorations is instead put towards a romantic cruise. A perfect plan – until the Christmas-obsessed neighbours get wind of it.
One of the major issues in Christmas With The Kranks is a complete lack of focus. If the film had spent more time on Allen and Curtis being tormented by Dan Ackroyd’s ghoulish self-appointed community leader, some comic mileage could have been extracted. However, the film seems reluctant to double-down on the idea of Christmas as a potentially hellish experience, instead doing an abrupt about-face halfway through and forcing the Kranks to abandon their cruise and come crawling back to the town. The message seems to be that resistance is futile, and the only acceptable approach to the Holiday season is total conformity.
This film was selected for us by our ever sadistic Patreon followers, so in this week’s podcast we take some time to unpack the many bizarre choices Christmas With The Kranks makes, speculate on the anti-comic desperation that must have led to the usually reliable Jamie Lee Curtis delivering a career-worst performance, and attempt to course correct with some sequel ideas – including a multi-franchise crossover and a fan theory about the real motivations behind the supporting cast’s obsessive forced jollity…
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Next week, we’re embarking on our Year-End review for 2019. It’s been a hell of a year, and for better or worse we have plenty to look back on. Until then, pleasant listening and remember – the true meaning of Christmas is joyless commercialism. Happy holidays!