ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  joe roth

RATED  -  pg

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  94 minutes

RELEASED  -  24 november 2004

DISTRIBUTOR  -  revolution studios

OFFICIAL SITE  -  the kranks

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $60,000,000
christmas with the kranks - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from christmas with the kranks at

buy the dvd from christmas with the kranks at

allen portrays luther krank who, fed up with the commerciality of christmas, decides to skip the holiday and go on a vacation with his wife instead.

the original title of this film, skipping christmas, was changed to its present title so as not to cause confusion with the recent film, surviving christmas.


picture from christmas with the kranks

picture from christmas with the kranks

picture from christmas with the kranks

picture from christmas with the kranks


one out of four possible stars

In the United States, the Christmas season has traditionally begun around Thanksgiving, when the intense marketing machine goes to work and consumers are bombarded with advertisements for toys, cars, and holiday decorations. It's also the time of year when Hollywood releases variously successful Christmas movies that run the gamut from warm and fuzzy to the inane and annoying. Christmas with the Kranks falls squarely into the latter category. Stumbling on most of its jokes, stars Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis can't find a foothold in the poorly plotted script and disingenuous characters.

Already having starred in the wildly successful "Santa Clause" series of holiday films, Tim Allen is no stranger to the Christmas spirit. But his usual candor and affability is strained in this film and the comedy just isn't at all intelligent. Not that it needs to be in a film that's supposed to be as innocently fuzzy at this, but the only jokes that will really tickle the audience's funny bones are the ones of the physical variety. When a character trips, falls, or splats on the ground or makes a weird face or does something with their body, the comedy that results is usually mindlessly entertaining.

With the horribly predictable dialogue that litters the film, the more "serious" moments follow in the same dilapidated vein as the scenes where the audience is supposed to be laughing. The characters as a whole seem insincere and since a large part of holiday films is to convey some of that sticky sweet Christmas sentiment, Kranks' placid characters and weak relationships make the movie a dull ninety-four minute affair. It's difficult to ascertain whose fault this intense failing is, but it's difficult to pin the blame on any one individual involved in the filmmaking process.

For example, Chris Columbus, the director of several high grossing films, is the screenwriter. The screenplay is based on a novel called, Skipping Christmas, who was written by the insanely popular and monetarily successful author, John Grisham. Additionally, the film was directed by Joe Roth, a highly powerful Hollywood producer. Rounding out the powerhouse talent connected to this film are stars Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis, both of whom have had enormous success in front of the camera in a variety of different genres.

Something peculiar sticks out though in the varied and successful resumes of the illustrious cast and filmmakers of Christmas with the Kranks. Director Joe Roth, despite his large producing resume, has directed five films (including the "Kranks"). Each of those films found neither box office gold nor critical acclaim. His last disastrous directorial effort was 2001's America's Sweethearts, a film that drew no strong interest from critics or fans. Is it fair to blame the director for this film's inability to connect with the audience, despite the evidence of the many successful films he's produced? It might be reasonably argued that the director should shoulder the entire blame (or congratulations) for a film's performance.

But with the impressive talent running alongside the director, the question must be asked: why weren't the screenplays fatal flaws caught by the producers, the writer, or by any of the actors? Certainly their pedigree would ensure their involvement in only the most creative of projects. That's hardly the case with this film and as many people know, talent in and of itself does not mean you'll end up with a superior product. And for this film, it also doesn't seem to guarantee you'll be able to recognize a great story. Perhaps the book shouldn't have been adapted into a film. Maybe it's just a case of the wrong people getting together at the wrong time.

Whatever the reason for this film's stumble out of the starting gate, it's not something that people should feel compelled to see in the theater. It's a movie that has the sort of appeal one might find as a movie of the week on a basic cable channel during the holidays. Members of the cast and crew involved in such areas as cinematography, sound, costuming, and set design have all done their jobs more than competently, but those filmmakers' solid base is made less valuable because of the tepid script and exhausted characters.

Even the zesty appearance of Dan Aykroyd in a supporting role as one of Allen's crazy neighbors cannot push this film into anything more interesting than mildly funny. It's innocent enough fare for family viewing, though if you've got a big family, it's probably not worth the several theatrical admissions you'd have to buy to get into the film. The movie would probably do rather well on the small screen during movie and pizza night. Since there are a few jokes that do warrant a healthy chuckle, this film is worthy of at least one star, though don't look for more than a handful of laughs.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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