It’s no ‘Jingle all the Way’

“Christmas with the Kranks”Revolution StudiosDirected by Joe RothWritten by Chris ColumbusAdapted from a novel by John GrishamStarring Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Erik Per Sullivan, and Dan AykroidRated PG/94 minutesOpened in theaters Nov. 24

Three out of five stars

Tim Allen proves he still has a little something left in “Christmas with the Kranks.” The film plays on familiar Christmas movie clichs, and at times seems like a “Home Improvement” Christmas special.

Still, the movie does have its fair share of laughs, and Jamie Lee Curtis and Tim Allen offer energetic, youthful performances. After all, what do you expect? The movie is based on the book by John Grisham (yes, I know, what the hell?), and was directed by Joe Roth, the mastermind behind “Revenge of the Nerds Two.”

“Christmas with the Kranks” follows the Kranks as they try to get through their first Christmas in 20-some years without their daughter. But watch out, my friend, because this movie is a roller-coaster ride of surprises.

After crunching some numbers, Luther Krank (Tim Allen) figures out that he can actually save money if he skips out on Christmas, and instead opts to go on a cruise with his wife, Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis). Hilarity and Dan Aykroyd ensue.

Aykroyd plays the Kranks’ neighborhood leader, who becomes obsessed when he finds out that they won’t be participating in the Christmas activities.

He does everything he can to try to sway them, including organizing the neighborhood kids in an aggressive Free Frosty Campaign (Frosty being a giant Frosty the Snowman that each home owner in the neighborhood is supposed to put up on his or her roof). But those zany Kranks refuse, and yes, once more, hilarity ensues.

Together Allen and Curtis are convincing as a couple, and the movie is worth seeing just for the sake of witnessing them back in action.

Jamie Lee Curtis stands out as very brave, offering up her body for laughs throughout the movie. Curtis also lives up to her old Scream Queen title. Toward the end of the movie, one begins to wonder why she screams so much. Maybe that’s just the way she talks.

Allen plays, well, Tim Allen. Luther Krank isn’t a stretch from anything he’s done in the past, but if it ain’t broke…

In fact, the movie is driven by Allen’s everyman vibe. If you don’t like Tim Allen, you won’t like this movie.

The same can be said of Dan Aykroyd. Neither of the two emotes too heavily in the film. But I honestly don’t think the movie would have benefited too much from it if they had.

“Kranks” actually has an interesting sub plot involving neighbor Walt Sheel (played by M. Emmet Walsh). The story culminates in what is actually a genuinely touching moment toward the end of the movie.

That’s the thing about this film. It knows what it is, and it revels in it. It has slapstick that is painful to watch, and a botox gag that made me feel weird. But still, it is what it is.

The only thing about the movie that I found unbearable was the character Spike Frohmeyer (played by Erik Per Sullivan, better known as Dewey from “Malcolm in the Middle”). Something about that kid makes me want to pour boiling bacon grease all over my face.

Regardless of said desires, “Kranks” is still a charming movie. It might not be the greatest flick, but if you’re feeling Christmassy, it will hold you over until TBS starts playing “A Christmas Story” 24 hours a day.

In a nutshell, if you hated “Home Improvement,” stay away. As for everyone else, put on your Christmas hat and go WILD.

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