Saturday, November 30, 2013

Books on Film: Christmas with the Kranks

It only takes four words to get me excited about a film: Tim Allen holiday movie. Even if he's not putting on the big red suit, I'm totally there. So I've seen Christmas with the Kranks like 8 times. What I just discovered recently is that it's a story...and it was written by John Grisham!


The Book

To be technical, the book is called Skipping Christmas. The title was changed for film; no one knows why. But in story form, this one's about Luther and Nora Krank. And yes, it was always written as a funny story. It became a bestseller when it was released during the holiday season of 2001.




You see, Luther and Nora do Christmas every year in a big way. But this year their daughter Blair is going to Peru with the Peace Corps. It's the first time they will be spending Christmas apart, and Nora is beside herself.

Luther, a numbers guy, adds up how much money they usually spend on Christmas. He's shocked by the total cost of decorations, entertaining and gifts. Instead, he purchases a 10-day cruise. Nora is skeptical at first, but soon she's sort of enjoying the fact that she doesn't have to shop or decorate for Christmas, much less throw a stressful Christmas Eve party. 

It would be great, in fact, but the neighbors are soon harassing Luther and Nora because they won't decorate their home. This could keep the block from winning a coveted decorating prize. Vic Frohmeyer leads the protests against them.

A series of hijinks follow until a call from Blair arrives on Christmas Eve, while Luther and Nora are packing. She's coming home for Christmas! What unfolds turns Skipping Christmas into a truly heart-warming holiday tale. It's also a pretty quick read, which makes it nice for the busy holiday season. 

But if you're like me, and you adore Tim Allen, you're also going to want to see this one on film.

The Movie

Skipping Christmas turned into Christmas with the Kranks in 2004, and the Kranks are Tim Allen as Luther and Jamie Lee Curtis as Nora. They're great together. The movie follows the book with extreme faithfulness, which solidifies my belief that short stories make for much better adaptations than full-length novels. Even the bedroom scene, where Nora and Luther argue about charitable contributions, made it into the movie. 


Dan Aykroyd perfectly plays neighborhood boss Vic Frohmeyer, and keep your eyes peeled for lots of other interesting cameo roles (including Cheech -- you can't miss Cheech). The end of the film is just as heartwarming as it is in the book, and the role of Luther is played perfectly by Tim Allen. I love this movie, but there are lots of critics who don't agree. If you're like me and you enjoy a good holiday tale (and Tim Allen), you should love it.

What Got Adapted?

A few scenes are added to the movie, the better to bring in the laughs. In the end, Luther needs a little extra prompting to come to his conclusion, extra dialogue that isn't included in the original story. On paper, the story is a little bit more fuzzy. On film, it's a little more funny (but with that cast, what do you expect)? Either way, this is a great story that's full of laughs. 

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