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Christmas With the Kranks Reviews

Tim Allen is transformed from the holly-jolly Santa of THE SANTA CLAUSE (1994) to a selfish grinch whose too-small heart eventually swells with patently false holiday cheer in this sour comedy based on John Grisham's novella Skipping Christmas. Nora and Luther Krank (Jamie Lee Curtis, Tim Allen) are heartbroken when their only child, Blair (Julie Gonzalo), decides to spend the holiday season with the Peace Corps in Peru rather than at home with her family. Nora's resigned observation that "Christmas won't be the same" gives Luther the brilliant idea that they should forgo the usual frantic holiday mayhem and take a Caribbean cruise. As far as bottom-line-oriented Luther is concerned, the best part of the plan is that they'll actually save money by avoiding the bank-account-sapping presents, parties and decorations. Nora agrees and soon has visions of sunscreen dancing in her head, but their Hemlock Street neighbors and Luther's office mates question their dare-to-be-different ways, chastising the Kranks for refusing to buy a tree from the Boy Scouts, donate money to the local police or exchange gifts and cards. The final straw comes when Luther leaves his 6-foot-tall Frosty the Snowman in the basement: Identical Frostys adorn every other home in the area, and the Kranks' undecorated place might cost them the Best-Bedecked Community contest. A near-lynch mob of Christmas-crazed neighbors, headed up by Vic Frohmeyer (Dan Aykroyd), station themselves outside the Krank house and start chanting "Free Frosty." Luther retaliates by icing his walkway and becomes increasingly curmudgeonly as he gets Botoxed and sunlamp-tanned in preparation for their trip. But the Christmas spirit comes back to bite the Kranks when Blair calls to say she's coming home to make a big announcement and she expects all the holiday trimmings; suddenly the cranky Kranks must rely on the kindness of their neighbors to pull it all together. Curtis' considerable and diverse talents don't go entirely unused — she gets to loose her legendary scream while hiding out from the snowman-crazed rabble and deserves credit for proudly displaying her mature, normal-looking body in a teeny-weeny bikini. But director Joe Roth misses an opportunity for true satire by making the neighbors such insanely over-the-top caricatures that the Kranks seem paragons of normality and perspective. Instead of being condemned for their individuality and rewarded when they cave to conformity, they should be applauded for standing up to the maniacally out-of-control Hemlock horde.