Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas With the Kranks 

I had to be at school first thing this sunny Saturday morning for our Massachusetts Practice and Procedure (i.e. Civil Procedure for civil actions in MA state courts), so when I got back early this afternoon we had a late big breakfast and watched last year's holiday offering from director Joe Roth and screenplay writer Chris Columbus (based on John Grisham's novel), Christmas With the Kranks. The big motivator for putting this on our Netflix list was Jamie Lee Curtis.

The first half or so was just too over the top. The basic premise is that Nora and Luther Krank (Jamie Lee Curtis and Tim Allen) are depressed as Christmas approaches, since their daughter has joined the Peace Corps and will be in Peru during the holidays, missing Christmas at home for the first time. Luther decides that they will simply "skip" Christmas, and will go on a romantic cruise instead to help them through their empty nest. Unfortunately, the folks in the neighborhood just won't let it go (the street wins the area house decorating contest every year), so they put the pressure on, led by Vic Frohmeyer (Dan Akroyd) and his Oliver Twist-ian gang of adolescents.

The initial reactions from friends, neighbors, coworkers and total strangers is too much. The Boy Scouts get pissed off because he doesn't take the Christmas tree they bring to the door on the assumption that he's going to shell out $90 for the same type of tree he bought last year. He didn't order it - they just brought it on out. The neighborhood gathers on the front lawn to shout out their demand that the seven-foot artificial snowman be hoisted onto his traditional place on the roof. Nora's friends are outraged that the Kranks won't be having their annual Christmas Eve party. The stationery store guy chases Nora down in a restaurant to announce to all present that Nora isn't ordering Christmas cards or party invitations, and then everyone starts glaring and gossiping. No one responds with any sympathy at all that this couple is trying to deal in their own way with the first holiday absence of their only child, who by all accounts is a favorite child of the entire neighborhood. It's just too much.

But The Girl and I hung on, even though I think The Girl was angling for early termination, and part way through the hijinx eventually led to some Christmas spirit kicking in, and it turned all It's a Wonderful Life and I even starting welling with the cheesy-ness of it all. The Girl was flabbergasted that it had this effect on me, but what can I say? I'm one of those people that is an easy mark for Hallmark commercials, romantic comedies and the like.

So while I wouldn't put it at the top of the list for holiday viewing, if you happen to have it or have seen everything else and you're willing to sit through the first half without damaging your screen by throwing heavy items at the obnoxious neighbors, the second half might give you a warm fuzzy reward.

Reality Check: It was okay. It was kind of goofy.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 4:45 PM