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CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS

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Forget the obligatory last-reel round-up of saccharine "true meaning of Christmas" gestures. What this broad holiday comedy from Joe Roth really emphasizes is that Christmas is all about the trappings. And by "Christmas" the film means what Dec. 25 represents to white, middle-class, Christian suburbanites: processed ham, vulgar light displays, plastic snowmen, silly sweaters -- a consumer-driven competition to see who can deliver the crassest salute to stuff. The Kranks (Jamie Lee Curtis and Tim Allen) decide -- with good reason -- that after blowing $6,000 on last year's Christmas, they'll skip it this year. That their neighbors nearly lynch them for what appears to be a very sensible downsizing and retreat from the manufactured tinsel phoniness of the season simply made me confused and angry. The reliable actors are game, but the film's ideology is way off the mark. P.S. Only 31 shopping and decorating days left.

 

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