‘Kranks’ just a standard holiday flick | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Kranks’ just a standard holiday flick

Howie Nave
Jamie Lee Curtis and Tim Allen star in "Christmas with the Kranks."

There was a time when Tim Allen had this potential to be a memorable comedic actor with range, who could poke fun at himself and still come across as that nice guy who makes all of these holiday movies. (Eddie Murphy reinvented himself going from raunch to a family staple.) But it appears that Disney has him forever locked into this one-dimensional character with little hope of becoming anything else.

By far one of the best little movies Allen ever appeared in was “Galaxy Quest” – a great sci-fi parody based on a popular TV show that spawned a major motion picture franchise. Now we have Tim Allen in a holiday movie that tries to be hip with a message, but in the end caves in to the usual happy ending so we can all drink our eggnog and not worry about the calorie intake feeling all happy.

“Christmas with the Kranks” starts off with much promise, with Allen as Luther Krank who wants no more to be part of the over-commercialization of Christmas. He and his wife, Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis), decide to boycott Christmas completely, and instead head off on a cruise to go check out their daughter, Blair (Julie Gonzalo), who is somewhere down in Peace-Corps-sponsored Peru. Oh, by the way, if you miss the Jamie Lee of yesterday in those screaming roles she did in the “Halloween” franchise … well, guess what – she’s back! She is screaming all over this picture!

Director Joe Roth paints a pretty convincing picture of Christmas being one commercial assault upon us all, forgetting the true meaning of what this holiday should really be about, and how somewhere along the way we lost track of that. In short, could it be possible the merchants have transformed this most special of all holidays into one long, end-of-the-year, bargain-basement sale? I’m just sayin’.

One of the more original Christmas movies, in my opinion, was last year’s “Bad Santa,” which is probably the best anti-holiday flick ever.

“Christmas with the Kranks” could have been another dark, sarcastic commentary on a popular theme, but bowed to the formula that we like: the usual happy-conclusion fare. Oh, well. Roth could have done so much with some of the scenes here. The one with the two of them hiding in their basement to avoid those Christmas carolers from hell was funny, but didn’t follow through on what could have been a great comeback.

Another scene showing the neighbors rebelling, trying to get the Kranks back from their cruise to be a part of the holiday spirit, could have been more, too, but noooo! Darn it. Could have been a whole social statement about what Christmas really should be about, and not one that is measured by the bottom line.

Tim Allen does his best with the role, but one can only do so much when the writing is reduced to some lame jokes. And we know Jamie Lee Curtis has comedic timing, but she, too, is limited with the material she has to work with.

The book by the same name was authored by John Grisham, with the screenplay by Chris Columbus, who has a track record when it comes to family-oriented flicks, so I was a little let down after the first hour. Expect the usual weird cameos, including one by Dan Aykroyd. Why? You think his Charter Cable TV commercials aren’t paying the bills?

– Howie Nave is host/manager of The Improv Comedy Club inside Harveys and reviews films for seven radio stations throughout northern California and Nevada. He hosts his own comedy and movie show every Friday and Sunday on Tahoe’s KRLT radio.

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