The most amazing thing about this one-joke movie is that it was based on a John Grisham novel: Skipping Christmas. Chris Columbus certainly does not display his biting wit and the skills he debuted with Gremlins 20 years ago. It’s hard to imagine this is the same guy who kicked off the Harry Potter series.
When their daughter joins the Peace Corps and leaves for South America during the Holidays, the Kranks decide to skip Christmas altogether and go on a cruise with the money they save. Why these altern…tive plans require a complete boycott of the season is never fully explained. No cards. No party. Not even a Seasons Greetings, it seems, is allowed to intrude on the Kranks’ plans. The neighborhood is up in arms over this “un-American” act. Their hostile activities leave one glad there weren’t any Jewish or Buddhist families in the neighborhood. Now, of course, you can’t really just skip Christmas, particularly if you’re in a family Christmas film. The daughter decides to come home with her fiancée and so suddenly Christmas is back… and in overdrive.
The cast never seems to have their heart in the work. Jamie Lee Curtis looks too much like Tim Allen’s television Tool Time wife. If you saw the trailer you’ve pretty much seen anything worth a laugh in this film.
Christmas With The Kranks is presented both full frame and 2.40:1 widescreen format. There are moments when the focus seems to slip and then jump quickly back. Colors are adequate, but I would not call them festive, even when a seasonal environment is called for. There are far too many instances of shimmer and compression artifacts. I would rather have the bit rate used for one sweet transfer than have space wasted on a useless full frame alternative. If you’re reading this review, you likely do not have much use for pan & scan transfers. Black levels are average. Contrast is weak throughout the film. Most of these complaints are flaws in the original production and do not reflect directly on the transfer.
A nice Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is wasted on a film that contains nothing aggressive or at all dynamic in the mix. Sure, some of the Christmas tunes drive several scenes, but here they just come across as loud, not necessarily better. Your sub will feel ignored. Dialogue is fine, and perhaps that’s really all this mix needs to accomplish.
Sadly there is nothing to report.
If you find yourself looking for a sweet family holiday film, go to your video store and find Christmas With The Kranks. Put it on a bottom shelf somewhere and take home “A Christmas Story,” or go for one of the oldies but goodies. Hard to believe this one warrants a sequel, but go figure. Watch it and you’ll be wondering as well. This was intended as a comedy? “So why am I not laughing?”