Christmas with the Kranks (2004)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Bit too flaky.

Anyone out there a fan of John Grisham? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a fan. I’ve read plenty of his novels, and even own around 90% of them, including a little book called Skipping Christmas. As you know, the man is very famous for specializing his novels around legal thrillers. Once in a blue moon, he’ll write about a sport like baseball or football, but it was more of a shock when Skipping Christmas came out. A Christmas story? Well I read it, and I read it pretty quickly because it was compelling and written rather well, but the decision to make it into a movie was a little lost on me. It was an interesting book yeah, but not all of his novels are made into films, and this doesn’t rank anywhere near his best entries. However, it was made, what can I say? I don’t know what it is, I keep watching Christmas films, and I keep getting disappointed. I’ll just say that Christmas with the Kranks works more in book format than it does for film…film just made it look corny.

The story starts with the Kranks, Luthor and Nora, as they are saying farewell to their daughter, who is off to Peace Corps. The Kranks are incredibly famous for their annual Christmas party, but they decided since their daughter is away, they would skip Christmas and everything holiday related that year and instead go on a cruise to the Caribbean. This stirred up an uproar from practically everyone around them from people at work, in the mall, and every single one of their neighbors, who take Christmas…very seriously. It didn’t matter to the Kranks though, because they had their plans set in stone…that is…until their daughter calls and tells her parents that she is coming home for Christmas.

Honestly, I loved this book and read it quickly. Knowing Tim Allen would be playing Luthor was actually more of a surprise to me, because I didn’t think he fit the role very well, but I conceded. Allen is great in Christmas-themed films, and I’m a firm believer in creative freedom, so I let it slide…for the most part I was right to worry. I’ve seen Tim Allen in so many different things, and I just don’t think this role fit him very well. He didn’t even seem to enjoy it all that much. That being said, the movie actually followed the book very closely, and for that I praise it for…it just works better as a book.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to see any of John Grisham’s novels adapted to the big screen, and I can’t wait for The Associate to get a release, so yeah…when I first saw it, all I could see was the clear references to things from the book, which was constant. I didn’t really have a chance to realize that the movie itself really isn’t that great. It feels so cheesy…the neighborhood mob, the cartoonish effects, frosty’s glowing eyes…I don’t know…it just felt wrong for film. The book had most of the stuff the movie did, but I don’t know, Grisham’s expert writing made it seem awesome.

I don’t want to seem like I hate the movie, because I don’t. It still means something to me because I love the book, and I see this every other year or so because the premise is admittedly fresh. It wasn’t exactly presented in the best light, but trust me when I say if they did everything perfectly, you’d have actually liked it. If they had less over-the-top moments, overacting, and more passion overall, it would be decent, I guarantee it. Instead, Christmas with the Kranks ultimately is lost among a pile of other misfit films.

The Good:
If you read the book, Skipping Christmas, you would realize that this adaption stays true to the book most of the time. You would probably also agree that the premise is intriguing, and the pacing isn’t really that bad.

The Bad:
The way this film is presented is in such a fashion that you really don’t care about the characters. Not even Tim Allen, who has a proven history of making successful Christmas films filled with great family-friendly Christmas spirit. Unfortunately, a good portion of that isn’t found here, and you start to realize that this story works better inside the pages of the novel.

Memorable Quote:

Nora Krank: You forgot the white chocolate!

Luther Krank: They didn’t have any.

Nora Krank: Did you talk to Rex?

Luther Krank: Who’s Rex?

Nora Krank: The butcher.

Luther Krank: …as odd as it sounds, I didn’t think to ask the butcher where the chocolate was!

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