Christmas With The Kranks Saturday 12 November, 2011

Starting with Christmas With The Kranks we’ll be reviewing a fair amount of christmas films so that you can avoid the lemons and tuck into the turkeys.

Based on a John Grisham story, Christmas with The Kranks tells the story of a couple who decide to skip christmas now that their daughter (their only child) has gone off to join the peace corp.  As with most christmas films it offers us something of a redemption story.  Along the way, and I suspect inadvertently, it also shows us some pretty disturbing things about society.

After their daughter flies off to good deeds middle age couple The Kranks (Jamie Leigh Curtis and Tim Allen) are depressed that christmas won’t be the same without their (awfully bland) daughter. Luther Krank decides that he will calculate how much money they spent on the previous christmas. He arrives at a total around the $6,000 mark. No small amount. He’s somewhat horrified and decides that they should instead skip christmas and spend half that amount on a 10 day cruise for the two of them.

This, obviously, makes him a bad person. The entire community seem to be outraged that this couple have decided not to observe christmas. It’s a little horrifying to see The Kranks get pestered by their neighbours for such a trivial piece of non-conformity. I wonder what would have happened to them if they had chosen some really alternative views. They suffer all manner of pressure from their community, including some weary dismay from their vicar.

I was starting to feel sorry for them until something even more upsetting happened. Having gone through all of the hardship and stigma of not decorating their house in that garish American way. Their brat phones them up two days before christmas (also two days before their cruise) to announce that she will be home for christmas with her new boyfriend. This prompts the Kranks to scrap all of their skipping christmas plans and rush around to try and pretend that they had always planned a christmas party as usual.

A terrifying worldview. Directive one. You must do the same as everybody else. Directive two. You must spend lots of money on celebrating christmas. Directive three. The whims of your spoilt brat are far more important than your own plans or desires. After this there are the typical scenes of hackneyed, hollow-eyed, merriment which is all quite nauseating. A grand gesture which means that everybody is a nice person after all.

I have to add that this is meant to be a comedy but it is desperately unfunny. It tries to teach us the true meaning of christmas. What it does show is that christmas is about plastic snowmen, tinned ham and bullshit. Even having a ghostbuster slumming it as an officious neighbour, a Cheech as a copper and a son of Busey cannot save this from being shit.

After this there are lots of scenes of hackneyed hollow eyed merriment which is all quite nauseating. A grand gesture which means that everybody is a nice person after all. I paid 75p for this film. I’d suggest you don’t make the same mistake.

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