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Saturday, December 06, 2014

Christmas With The Kranks

It is the return of SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES!  Are we excited about this news?

Okay, well, what if I told you that this was Day #6 of THE POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR?  That ought to make you excited, right?

Okay, well, what if I told you that I had $1,000 to give out to EVERYONE WHO READS THIS POST?!?

Well, I'm sure that would be nice.  Unfortunately, I do not have that much money on me, and I cannot keep that promise.  But since you're here, I thought I would have a discussion on a holiday movie.

I imagine that as of right now, all of you are making your preparations for the holidays, and most of you probably have your own holiday traditions.  You might have a winter bonfire in your backyard every Christmas Eve.  You may have a special stuffing recipe that you have to make every year.  You might even have a holiday challenge where you compete to see who can eat the most candy canes in a row! 

Whatever your traditions are, I would think that most of them are family-oriented.  After all, the holidays are all about spending time with your family and friends, and being thankful for having another holiday season to spend with them.

But what happens when a little kink gets thrown into your perfect family Christmas?  Suppose that bad weather prevents your whole family from being able to fly in for the holidays.  Or, maybe you get sick on Christmas Eve and are bedridden for Christmas Day.  Or perhaps your daughter is unable to come home for Christmas because she has gone off to have an adventure out of the continent.  That would be quite the Christmas dilemma, wouldn't it?

So, what do you do?  Do you decide to have Christmas anyway without your loved ones, thinking that it is the right thing to do?  Do you postpone Christmas for a few days and have a celebration closer to the New Year?  Or do you just decide to forget about Christmas and just go on an extended cruise away from it all?

Well, I can tell you that in today's movie discussion, one family faces that very choice.  And when they make a choice that baffles their friends, infuriates the neighbours, and causes everyone to wonder what they were thinking, they wonder if they made the right choice at all.

But when you spend "Christmas With The Kranks", anything is possible!

Now, granted, this film is probably not going to be held in as high regard as classics such as "It's A Wonderful Life", "Miracle on 34th Street", or even "Home Alone".  It was critically panned, and I even have to question why the decision not to host a Christmas celebration would be equated to a man breaking into an orphanage on Christmas Eve and stealing all of their Christmas goodies.  But we'll get to that a little later.

The film was directed by Joe Roth, and the screenplay was penned by Chris Columbus (who also worked on "Home Alone" and the first few Harry Potter movies).  Released on November 24, 2004 (has it really been ten years since this came out?), the film stars Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd, Erik Per Sullivan, Cheech Marin, and M. Emmet Walsh.

So, as you may have gathered, Luther and Nora Krank (Allen and Curtis) have decided that they are going to have a Christmas celebration unlike any other.  And how this Christmas will be different?  They simply aren't going to celebrate it!

Normally, the Krank family goes all out for the holidays.  But when their daughter Blair opts to go to South America on a Peace Corps mission during the holidays, the Kranks decide that the Christmas season won't be the same without her.  Plus, they were shocked to learn that their last holiday cost them a total of over six thousand dollars.

(Okay, what family aside from the Trumps spends SIX GRAND on Christmas?!?  On second thought, don't answer that.)

Anyway, the Kranks decide not to wallow in self-pity over not having Blair home for the holidays.  They make the decision to use the six thousand that they would have spent on the holidays to book themselves a ten-day holiday cruise in the Caribbean.  What could be better than that?

Well, according to the residents of Hemlock Street - the street where the Kranks live - ANYTHING would have been better.  Turns out that the Kranks decision not to decorate their home, purchase a Christmas tree, or buy Christmas gifts has caused a lot of outrage in the community.  The neighbours of the Krank family basically turn the Kranks into public enemy number one.  Walt Scheel (Walsh) and Vic Frohmeyer (Aykroyd) seem to be launching the campaign to force the Kranks to wake up and smell the mistletoe.  For Frohmeyer, it is simply because he wants to have their neighbourhood win the contest for best decorated street.  But Walt may have an even bigger reason for wanting to spread a little holiday joy to the that we won't understand until the end of the film.

Needless to say, the Kranks are very determined to stand their ground, and even if the entire town despises them, and calls them out on what the townspeople perceive to be Scrooge like behaviour, nothing will stop them from having the non-Christmas Christmas that they have planned.

Well, except for the fact that Blair has gotten engaged to a man from Peru and plans on surprising her parents by bringing him home for Christmas so he can observe a real American holiday celebration!

Can you say honey glazed ham panic here?

Anyway, I won't reveal any more plot points here.  If I do, you won't be compelled to watch the rest of it, even if critics savaged it.  However, I do see what message the film is trying to say, even if the neighbours of the Krank family end up looking like jerks in the process.  I guess the message is that no matter how little, or how much a person decorates, everyone can be infected with the wonderful spirit of the holidays.  It's also a cunning example of how materialistic some people can get over the holidays.  You don't have to have a Caribbean cruise, or win the prize for best decorated house, or even prepare the perfect Christmas ham.  All you need is the people who love you the most.  After all, time is quite precious.  That's the best gift to give someone.

I'll be taking a look at a Christmas song in tomorrow's edition of the advent calendar.  Until next day, everyone. 

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