One-man holiday-season lousy-movie machine Tim Allen (The Santa Clause and The Santa Clause 2; Joe Somebody; For Richer for Poorer) is back with yet another alleged holiday comedy. The premise, adapted from a John Grisham story, focuses on a middle-aged suburban couple who decide to abandon their empty nest at Christmas and go on a cruise in lieu of the usual Christmas hoo-hah. Naturally, they must be punished.
What on earth was anyone thinking? Luther’s so Kranky he can’t just skip the Christmas-Eve shindig… he wants a "total boycott," even of charitable donations — despite the fact that they’re saving money on the cruise over against their usual seasonal expenditures. (That his wife Nora, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, absolutely refuses to go along with his plans until Luther caves on the charitable donations is some consolation, but not nearly enough.)
As bad as Luther is, he’s surrounded by neighbors who are actually worse than he is, and devote themselves to browbeating the Kranks into submission until finally coming together in a heartwarming display of how communities support erring members after pummeling them into the ground. The film makes the colossal mistake of making Luther’s obsession actually seem almost a well-intentioned protest against an ugly enforced conformity — then not only lets the neighbors win, but allows them to claim the moral high ground over Luther, whose notion of a romantic getaway is repeatedly blasted as "stupid" and "selfish" by his own wife.
The comedy ranges from embarrassing (a fuddled priest ogling the bikini-clad Nora whom he spots at the mall in a tanning salon) to stupid (Nora hiding under the covers as the neighbors holler for the plastic Frosty in their cellar) to mean-spirited (plenty of Home Alone style pratfalls from screenwriter Chris Columbus).
"No! Ho! Ho!" says the tagline. They had me at "No!" From now on, instead of the Kranks skipping Christmas, can’t Allen skip future Christmas movies? Please?
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.