When their daughter joins the Peace Corps, the thought of a Christmas alone worries Luther and Nora Krank (Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis). A chance spotting of an advertisement makes Luther realise that if they don’t spend all the money they usually spend of Christmas, they can instead takes a Caribbean cruise and still end up better off. Thus the Kranks decide to skip Christmas, much to the annoyance of their friends and neighbours who make regular Scrooge and Grinch comparisons. Of course, this is thrown into turmoil when their daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo) phones up on the morning of Christmas Eve telling her parents she is bringing her new fiancee home for Christmas. Can the Kranks prepare everything in a few hours?
Based on the novel ‘Skipping Christmas’ by best-selling legal-thriller author John Grisham, this was scripted by Chris Columbus and it has a suitable level of Home Alone meets Christmas Vacation style slapstick and Christmas cheer. Unfortunately it never matches either of these films’ heart. Inside Christmas with the Kranks is a heart-warming, funny and touching film, struggling to get out, but it never really manages it.
Once Tim Allen’s Luther makes the decision to Skip Christmas, he rejects Christmas and all of it’s trapings, even those elements that have no impact on his time or finances, making him an anti-Christmas caricature. Add to this some odd character moments like his random decision to get botox injections to prepare him for a cruise, and he cannot really be empathised with. Jamie Lee Curtis plays Nora as so neurotic she can barely function, and while this has some amusing moments, it again makes the character hard to take seriously and undercuts the more serious moments in the film.
Dan Aykroyd plays Vic Frohmeyer, the Kranks neighbour and the local cheerleader for Christmas spirit, which makes him antagonistic towards the Kranks when they refuse to decorate their house etc. M. Emmett Walsh plays Walt Scheel, another neighbour whose seriously ill wife Bev (Elizabeth Franz) provides what should be the emotional weight of the film but can’t really overcome the cartoony slapstick to make you care enough.
Cheech Marin and Jake Busey are local police officers who Luther offends by refusing to buy the police charity calendar, and who pop up throughout the film, with mostly cringe-worthy results.
Above all, the film preaches conformity, that going against the established Christmas traditions is foolish and incorrect. Part of me dislikes that, but it’s a Christmas film, what do I expect?