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Christmas with the Kranks
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the movie has some mild sexual references (Nora thinks Luther wants to have sex and starts taking off her sweater and gulps down some wine, saying, "But it isn't Saturday!"). Characters drink wine and beer on social occasions and some reach for alcohol to deal with stress. There is a lot of comic violence and mayhem, with many falls, bashes on the head, and electrocutions that are intended to be funny. A character receives bad news about the recurrence of cancer.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
The Kranks always do Christmas in a big way. But with their daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo) departing for Peru, the prospect of a Christmas at home doesn't seem too appealing. So Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) decide to skip Christmas and take a luxury cruise. When their friends and neighbors pressure them to conform, the Kranks refuse to put their enormous Frosty up on the roof, shoot down tree-selling Boy Scouts, and ice the walk to deter carolers. But when Blair decides to come home Christmas with her new boyfriend and wants everything to be just like it always is, everyone scrambles to make things perfect for Blair.
Is it any good?
The characters are unpleasant, the jokes are unfunny, and the sentiment is hypocritical -- so this movie is about as unappetizing as last year's figgy pudding. There are useless digressions about a robber and a mystery man who seems to know everyone. The fact that Blair has a boyfriend who is a foreigner is supposed to be funny. One of the Kranks' neighbors develops a very serious health problem, a particularly manipulative and awkward plot device obviously inserted to get our sympathy and give Luther a growth experience.
But what makes this film genuinely toxic is its attempt to leverage all of its audiences' feelings about the best of Christmas while having no sense at all of what makes those feelings matter. Nora's only contact with her clergyman is contrived so that he sees her in her skimpy bathing suit. The film's phony attempt to make fun of the craziness, commercialism, and conformity of the holiday season is in fact just one more example, so fundamentally fake and superficial it makes tinsel look like sterling.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what is important about Christmas or other holidays and which traditions have the most meaning to them. They could also talk about peer pressure and how to know when to listen to the community and when to stick with your own judgment about what is right.
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