Sunday, December 26, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #58, Christmas With The Kranks

I'm now about two-thirds finished with my quest to watch the one hundred worst movies of 2000-09, according to Rotten Tomatoes, so I expect to finished long before this time next year. Therefore, I took the opportunity to watch the third and final (and worst, in my opinion) Christmas movie on the list, Christmas with the Kranks, based on John Grisham's novel, Skipping Christmas. Judging by my main problem with the movie, Grisham should maybe stick to the formulaic lawyer novels.

There is plenty not to like about the movie-making here. Tim Allen seems to sleepwalk through every movie role he has and it has only ever really worked in Galaxy Quest, where his character was supposed to be disinterested. Granted, the writing in Galaxy Quest is also quite strong, whereas this script was a disaster. Joke after joke that miss, both one-liners and slapstick. The camera work is pretty bad, as each conversation turns into a close-up fest that makes it seem that no two actors were ever in a room together. The editing is probably the worst technical thing about the movie as there are three separate plots that do not happen simultaneously, so the eighty-something-minute film feels like it is three hours long. Of course, it's also pretty boring, which doesn't help.

The worst part about the movie, though, is the message. The plot deals with a couple who, when their daughter joins the Peace Corps and will not be home for Christmas for the first time, look at how much money they usually spend and decide to skip Christmas, opting instead for a cruise. They refuse to decorate, buy anything Christmas-y, or participate in any of the neighborhood contests. I am again reminded that very few Christmas movies involve neighborhoods that have any Jews because everyone is aghast at the plans to skip Christmas. The neighbors protest and even the local priest is upset that the couple is not buying anything decorative. When the daughter decides to surprise everyone by coming home, they then rush to put together an appropriate Christmas and learn that they should be neighborly (read: conform). The third plot deals with a robber and Santa Claus. Don't ask.

Anything missing from that Christmas movie plot above? Hint: it starts with a 'J' and ends with an 's'. Yes, even the priest is unhappy that the family is not celebrating Christmas by buying stuff, there is no mention of them ever going to mass. The religious aspect of Christmas is not mentioned once in the movie. Believe me, I was listening pretty hard for it after a while. So, I was ready to scream anti-Semitism because the movie is about people being incredulous that anyone would ever want to skip Christmas, but it turns out to be anti-Christian, too. It sings the praises of materialism and conformity which, granted, are important aspects of Christmas in our society, but they probably shouldn't be. The only mention of Christ in this movie was as the first half of a compound word ending with 'mas'. I hate a preachy religious movie as much as anyone, but "mas Christ" is exactly what this hateful film could have used.

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