Christmas with the Kranks

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Christmas with the Kranks
Christmas With the Kranks poster.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joe Roth
Produced by Michael Barnathan
Chris Columbus
Mark Radcliffe
Screenplay by Chris Columbus
Based on Skipping Christmas 
by John Grisham
Starring Tim Allen
Jamie Lee Curtis
Dan Aykroyd
Erik Per Sullivan
Cheech Marin
Jake Busey
M. Emmet Walsh
Rene Lavan
Ivan Novelo
Dyrone Tonk
Steinfield Billium
Joey Bonzo
Music by John Debney
Cinematography Don Burgess
Edited by Nick Moore
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • November 24, 2004 (2004-11-24)
Running time 98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $60 million[1]
Box office $96,572,480[1]

Christmas with the Kranks is a 2004 American christmas comedy film directed by Joe Roth and starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis. The screenplay by Chris Columbus is based on the 2001 novel Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. The plot revolves around a couple who decide to skip Christmas one year since their daughter is away much to the chagrin of their neighbors. However the plans are changed around when their daughter phones them to tell them that she is coming home for Christmas.


After Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora Krank (Jamie Lee Curtis) see their daughter, Blair (Julie Gonzalo) depart for a Peace Corps assignment in Peru on the Sunday following Thanksgiving, empty nest syndrome sets in. Luther calculates the couple spent $6,132 during the previous year's holiday season and, not looking forward to celebrating Christmas without their daughter, he suggests they invest the money usually spent on decorations, gifts, and entertainment and treat themselves to a ten-day Caribbean cruise instead. Skeptical at first, Nora finally agrees under the condition that they still give a donation to the church and Children's Hospital. Luther tries to refuse but finally agrees and they begin planning the trip.

The Kranks are amazed to discover they are considered pariahs as a result of their decision. Luther's co-workers think he has become Ebenezer Scrooge when he gives all his employees letters that state about his Christmas boycott, local stationer Aubie is distressed to lose the couple's order for their engraved greeting cards and Christmas Eve party invitations, the Boy Scout troop is upset and angered when the Kranks refuse to purchase one of their Christmas trees to help the scouts make enough money for a camporee, and the police are stunned to discover they won't be buying this year's calendar from them. Most vocal in their objections are neighbors Vic Frohmeyer (Dan Aykroyd) and Walt Scheel (M. Emmet Walsh). Vic, who's the unelected leader of the street, organizes a campaign to force the Kranks to decorate their home so Hemlock Street won't lose the coveted award for best decorations. Walt doesn't seem to like Luther, so his efforts are primarily personal. However, it is revealed that Walt's wife Bev is suffering from cancer, perhaps dampening his holiday spirits. Children picket, led by Vic's son Spike (Erik Per Sullivan), neighbors constantly call, and Christmas carolers try to revive the Kranks' holiday spirit by singing on their lawn which Luther stops them by freezing his front lawn. Even the newspaper gets into the act by publishing a front page story complete with a photograph of the unlit Krank house and states that the Kranks' street has lost the prize and won sixth place because of how Luther and Nora refused to decorate their house. Still, Luther and Nora continue to stand their ground.

The two are in the process of packing on Christmas Eve morning when they receive a call from Blair, who announces she's at Miami International Airport, en route home with her Peruvian fiancé as a surprise for her parents. She's anxious to introduce Enrique to her family's holiday traditions, and when she asks if they're having their usual party that night, a panicked Nora says yes. Comic chaos ensues as the couple finds themselves trying to decorate the house and coordinate a party with only twelve hours to spare before their daughter and future son-in-law arrive.

While Nora scrambles to find food, especially Blair's favorite honey flavored ham, Luther goes to buy a tree from the Boy Scouts but they only have one worthless non-green tree left since their sales went big and rapid. Luther decides to give a donation by giving them money but taking the tree in the process; he then rejects it by throwing it in his backyard. While Spike leads a picket at the Kranks', Luther arranges to borrow the tree of neighbor Wes Trogdon who is going away for a week with his kids and wife to close relatives being given the warning that he is not to break one ornament or damage it. Luther and Spike try to transport it across the street on Spike's Radio Flyer wagon, only for the neighbors to confuse this to be Luther stealing the family's Christmas tree and end up being called for the police to arrest him for theft. Spike comes to Luther's rescue by showing the neighbors and officers that Luther has Trogdon's keys and thus was given permission to borrow the tree. Nora comes home enraged at Luther for making the borrowed Christmas tree a "Disaster" and how she had to buy "Smoked Trout" to replace the honey ham. Once it is established why Luther is trying frantically to decorate his home, the neighbors, led by Vic, come out full force to help him and Nora ready it for Blair. Blair calls to say she landed from Miami; despite this, she is sent by a police transport to their house thus leaving her still unknown of the chaos.

After subtly giving everybody including Blair and Enrique, an unthankful and non-friendly toast, Luther tries to convince Nora to accept the cruise when she confronts him for the toast, but she refuses, disgusted that he isn't happy that Blair's home. Luther having a change of heart sadly slips out of the house and goes across the street to the Scheel home. Bev's cancer, once in remission, has returned and, knowing this may be their last holiday together, Luther insists they take the cruise in place of him and Nora, going so far as to offer to take care of their hated cat, Muffles. At first they decline, but ultimately accept his generosity, and Luther, whose holiday spirit has been renewed, realizes that skipping Christmas wasn't as good an idea as he had originally thought.



Some exteriors were shot on location in Vancouver and Los Angeles. Interiors were filmed at Culver Studios and Downey Studios. Because of weather concerns, the original plan to film in the Chicago suburbs was nixed in favor of constructing the Hemlock Street set in the parking lot of a former Boeing factory.[2]

The soundtrack features many holiday standards, including "Jingle Bell Rock" by Brenda Lee; "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" by Billy May & His Orchestra with vocal by Alvin Stoller; "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" by Eddie Dunstedter; "White Christmas" by Dean Martin; "Frosty the Snowman" by Steve Van Zandt; "Blue Christmas" by Elvis Presley; and "The Christmas Song" by Ella Fitzgerald. Also featuring music by Joey Bonzo.


The film was widely panned by critics. It received a rating of 5% from review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 131 reviews, with the site's consensus: "A mirthless movie as fresh as last year's fruit cake, Christmas with the Kranks is a coarse, garish comedy that promotes conformity."[3] Much of the negative reaction stemmed from the movie appearing to vilify the Kranks for their non-conformity. However, the film received positive reviews in many evangelical Christian venues. Movieguide called it "a surprisingly funny and warm Christmas movie that skews more toward Santa than Jesus but still contains a redemptive message."[4]

Box office[edit]

The film was a box office success. On its opening weekend, it earned $21,570,867 on 3,393 screens, ranking #3 behind National Treasure and The Incredibles. It eventually grossed $96,572,480 worldwide.[1]


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