Christmas With The Kranks (2004) – A Review


A review of the 2004 comedy Christmas With The Kranks starring Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Aykroyd, one of the worst Christmas movies ever made

Tim Allen Christmas with the Kranks comedy 2004

Normally, Luther and Nora Krank (Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis) are big into Christmas. They spare no expense and go full out celebrating the holiday. But with their daughter away this year, the Kranks decide to skip their usual traditional Christmas and book a Caribbean cruise for themselves. With no pressure from the trappings of the yuletide holiday they’ll avoid the stress, decorating and money that accompanies Christmas. This year they’ll focus on enjoying themselves and relaxing.

However, their neighbors aren’t too thrilled with this decision by the Kranks. Headed by Christmas-happy neighbor Aykroyd, the neighborhood turns into an angry, offended mob who spend the holiday season harassing, shunning and persecuting the Kranks for their obscene idea of skipping this most joyous of holidays. Thanks to this helpful abuse, the Kranks get reminded how great Christmas is and how silly it was for them to miss it.

Or something.

This movie is one of the worst Christmas movies I’ve ever seen. I really did not like it.

Tim Allen Jamie Lee Curtis Christmas with the Kranks 2004 comedyApparently I’m not alone. Christmas With The Kranks routinely shows up on lists of  ‘Worst Christmas Movies Ever Made’. And it deserves that recognition. Oh boy, does it!

The film is based on a novel by John Grisham. I am not familiar with it at all or if it was supposedly any good. So, I don’t know if its story would make a good basis for a Christmas film. The movie itself is a miserable, unfunny, annoying experience. I’m not sure what out of all of this was thought to have the makings of any kind of Christmas tale.

It just creeps along desperately trying to come up with any scenario it can muster for eye-rolling comedy. The results are insipid, lazy and mean-spirited scenes that made me dislike this movie so much that I would flat out ignore Christmas if I was forced to live in this hostile neighborhood.

The biggest gripe I had about this flick is the basic setup. The Kranks decide to skip Christmas. They have legitimate reasons, they want to go away on a cruise, spend time in the sun. Ok, fine. It’s really not a big deal. It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of places to go with this. Maybe follow them on their Caribbean Christmas?

The only place the movie goes with the premise is are with these angry neighbors who act so mean, disrespectful and hostile towards the Kranks’ decision to not participate in Christmas, that the movie becomes a series of nasty scenes of the badgering the Kranks have to take from them.

Dan Aykroyd Jamie Lee Curtis Christmas with the Kranks 2004 comedyWhile watching a scene of Aykroyd hanging onto Curtis’ car yelling at her to put their snowman decoration up I was thinking – “Wow, these two have really fallen a far way from Trading Places.”

None of it is funny or even the slightest, tinest bit amusing.

It appears that the Kranks participation in the holiday are an essential part in making everyone else’s Christmas worthwhile. Now that they have decided to sit it out this year it has ruined it for everyone else – somehow. Everyone acts angry towards them, threatens them to decorate, they send carolers over to their yard to torment them. It’s extremely unfunny and cruel.

I get that comedy is exaggeration, but just the basics of this story makes it difficult to attach any kind of believability to anything that follows. There’s no legitimate reasons for the neighbors to be so pissed about the Kranks and certainly nothing that they’re doing (or not doing) that is affecting everyone else’s Christmas. So, what is the problem?

Oh, the Kranks don’t want to put up their snowman decoration. They’re not going to have a Christmas party. They’re not going to give people presents. Who gives a s***!

Christmas with Kranks Tim Allen Jamie Lee Curtis 2004This flick got me quite mad. What a bunch of dreadful people these are. There’s no indication of any pure Christmas meaning anywhere throughout this movie.

I don’t even know why these neighbors are celebrating Christmas or what it even means to them. From what I learned they simply love the commercialism, shallowness and decorating the holiday brings. Anything more meaningful is completely lost on them.

The Kranks don’t appear to be missing out on anything. This neighborhood should all skip Christmas until they learn how to treat each other decently.

Another thought ran through my mind – had the Kranks been Jewish would the neighbors treat them this way? Had the Kranks decided to skip Christmas this year because their daughter had just died, would that be a legitimate enough reason to their neighbors why they’re not putting up their plastic snowman or would they still want to crucify them?

Why would the Kranks not want to move out of this neighborhood after the disrespect their lovely neighbors have showed them throughout the season? I would have packed up a U-Haul by New Years!

Ok, say we willingly swallow this story, maybe we can enjoy some laughs this premise is going bring? Nope!

During all of this hate, the film adds silly uncreative prat falls, lame visual gags (like Allen getting botox injections – oh brother) and chaotic yelling. Not one single joke lands. It’s quite startling.

Jamie Lee Curtis Christmas with the Kranks comedy 2004
Jamie Lee Curtis in Christmas With The Kranks

The Christmas portion in Funny Farm, where Chevy Chase pays the cynical townsfolk to put on a small town traditional Christmas in order to lure potential buyers to buy their house has more laughs and is smarter than anything in Kranks.

After all of these laborious, badly written, juvenile scenes the movie tries to add some heartfelt sentimentality to this crap by having the Kranks rush around to set up a Christmas party after learning their daughter is indeed coming back home.

You know the drill. The neighbors get behind them, everyone works together to manufacture this Christmas party for the daughter. For some reason police officers Cheech Marin and Jake Busey bring a burglar to the party. I have no idea what that was about. That just seemed like filler to lengthen the movie.

By the end, it doesn’t seem like anyone has learned anything. My take: the Kranks learn that their house looks nice with lights and with that plastic snowman on the roof so it’s worth celebrating Christmas and the neighbors are happy they acted like bullies the entire season and the Kranks ended up celebrating in the superficial trappings of Christmas like them and are proud they now conformed to the beliefs with the rest of the neighborhood.

Jamie Lee Curtis Tim Allen Christmas with the Kranks 2004 comedy worst horrible awfulThis was horrible. What a depressing movie this is. The sole thing that I can say I liked in this movie was seeing M. Emmet Walsh, since I’ve always liked him. Other than his appearance (and my hope he got a decent paycheck out of this) the movie is garbage from beginning to end. There is nothing here worth your time. And it could very well just make you angry.

Pick any other Christmas-themed movie to watch over this. Even those cheap made-for-cable ones would probably put this to shame.

Yes Virginia, Christmas With The Kranks is one of the worst Christmas movies ever.

The trailer for this is pretty darn accurate


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