Worst of any genre - Film Review
Christmas with the Kranks
Staring: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Directed by: John Roth
Christmas with the Kranks deserves a place among not only the worst holiday movies ever made, but one of the worst of all time in ANY genre.
The story closely follows the novel by John Grisham. The book itself is challenged from the get-go because it employs a formula which is all too familiar among holiday fare: The man who has lost his enthusiasm for the Christmas season but eventually goes through a personal redemption which restores his spirit.
It is a theme that has been visited by everyone from Charles Dickens to Dr. Seuss, and so needs a lot of creativity and hard work to appear original. Unfortunately, Grisham's plot followed a very predictable course and the result is a tale that is so tiresome that you can even sense the actors and the director of the film version were just as completely bored by the premise as most viewers will be.
The story also suffers from the assumption that a family not blatantly participating in outdoor lighting, greeting card sending, party-throwing, etc. would be branded and immediately set apart as rejects of their local society.
I don't know about the neighbourhood where John Grisham lives, but not everyone does decorate so that fact that neighbourhood protests ensue is a slightly silly if not ironical situation. Further, in an age when Nativity scenes are routinely banned from public display and use of the word "Christmas" itself is discouraged as politically incorrect, it is hard to believe there would be such widespread condemnation of one family's decision to "skip Christmas" so they can go on a Caribbean cruise.
The development of the main character, Luther Krank (played by Tim Allen), into a man who is tired of the Christmas grind went too fast in the book and in the movie is barely established at all.
In fact, we are led to believe it all comes about after one scene in which Luther makes a dash into a specialty foods store in the pouring rain to pick up a couple of items for his wife. What passes for creative slapstick at this time is Luther getting splashed by a car and his foot being submerged in a watery pothole. Brace yourself, because that is about as original as the pranks in this film get.
While the main characters – Luther, and his wife, Nora (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) are hardly given any time to get into character, the character of the neighbours, and the Kranks' relationship to them is given none. It is almost as if the screenplay was written assuming the viewer had read Grisham's book and could fill in all the blanks.
Hence, the much needed dynamic tension between the neighbours and the Kranks in order to establish some of the comedy is non-existent. Without build-up or justification, the animosity the neighbours have for the Kranks is forced, untrue, and very unfunny.
It is unsettling to watch highly paid actors go through the motions, looking as tired as the story. It is as if they themselves had no faith in the film, and just couldn't wait to get it done and over with. Ditto for the director. I can just visualize the director saying, "Okay, Tim, Jaimie Lee. One take and let's move on to the next one."
Even the cinematography looks tired and passionless. It appears as if even the outdoor scenes were filmed in a brightly lit studio. The story ached for a wide angle or bird's-eye panorama of the neighbourhood to emphasize the Kranks' lack of participation with the lighting displays but we never see such a view. In addition, the scenery itself is so brightly lit you can hardly tell a difference between the Kranks' "dark" undecorated house and those of his neighbours.
When a comedy falls this flat, it is not pretty. Especially when the script tries to inject some instant pathos at the last scene! Ironically, Luther's "conversion" into a caring person, a scene that is intended to be moving, may be the most laughable aspect of a film that is entirely contrived and more pathetic than anything else
Watch it if you liked – Home Alone
Movie Hall of Fame – No
Tagline - Their Christmas will turn the town upside down!
He said/she said – You're skipping Christmas! Isn't that against the law?
|Keeping Mum (2005)
This is a British black comedy starring none other than Rowan Atkinson, Kristin Scott Thomas and Maggie Smith. Maggie Smith plays the role of Grace Hawkins. Her entry as a housekeeper into Reverend Walter Goodfellow's (Atkinson) country abode is almost an "act of grace". Ignorant of her past, the family embraces Grace with open arms and learn with time that their lives are becoming more tolerable. All things they were unhappy with seem to simply 'disappear'.
'Grace' has taken care of everything. She has got rid of the neighbour's yapping dog who disturbed her daughter's sleep (Kritin Scott Thomas), its owner who discovers her crime and the paramour who attempts to break up the happy family (something very familiar to Grace) and even taught the bullies at her grandson's school, a lesson. The Reverend who never had time for his wife and family learn to appreciate them and rediscovers his own 'funny' side.
When Grace's crimes are discovered her daughter and grand-daughter decide to 'keep mum' about it. At the end of the movie, we get a hint that her daughter is seemingly following her mother's "bloodthirsty solution" in getting rid of anyone that is in the way. Some might say the movie is a bit distasteful but it is pleasantly surprising. Maggie Smith is brilliant in her execution, literally and metaphorically! So worth watching I believe!
(Warning: a scene with Patrick Swayze in a tight thong is a little difficult to digest)
Mailed in by: Winnie
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