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By Pete Vonder Haar | November 26, 2004

I’ve long been a cynic, seeing the bad in people more often than the good, and choosing to ascribe suspicious motives to even the most innocent of actions. Somewhere in the depths of my mind, however, I think I always believed mankind would eventually pull itself out of the morass of the mediocrity and vacuous evil that had plagued it for so long. I thought someday, eventually, we’d have no choice but to collectively get our s**t together and build a better world.

Today, I no longer believe that. For I have seen “Christmas with the Kranks.”

It’s bad enough that we’re reminded of what horrible people we are once a year by the annual ground assault of holiday movies, but you can only tell someone to be nice to your fellow man so many times before people get sick of it. I’ve been sick of it for years, and I’m confident legions of moviegoers will join me after sitting through Tim Allen’s latest stink bomb.

(Remember when Tim Allen was funny? No? That’s because he never was. He milked that pre-Blue Collar Comedy Tour shtick into oblivion with “Home Improvement,” but only secures the really big laughs when getting nailed for drug dealing or drunk driving.)

In “Christmas with the Kranks,” Allen plays Luther Krank: homeowner, suburbanite, and generally useless human being. Together with his wife (Jamie Lee Curtis, burning through whatever capital she built after Freaky Friday), they’re sending daughter Blair off to the Peace Corps. With her out of the house for Christmas, the couple decides to skip the holidays and go to the Caribbean. This comes as a nasty shock to the rest of the neighborhood, who pull out all the stops every year decorating their street for the coming…

You know what? Screw it. If you’re the kind of person who actually agonizes over getting the right kind of wrapping paper and making your house look like an Indian casino every Christmas, this is the movie for you. I’m sure the combination punch of botox jokes, Jamie Lee Curtis sliding through a parking lot in pursuit of a ham, and Dan Aykroyd will have you in stitches. Doubtless you’ll be able to forgive the poor slapstick, clichéd writing (even for John Grisham), and truly miserable acting. Everyone else, run – don’t walk – to your local video store that isn’t Blockbuster and rent “Ernest Saves Christmas” or “Die Hard.”

Even as a way to spend two blessed hours away from your family over the holidays, “Christmas with the Kranks” is an abysmal failure, and I am a worse person for having seen it.

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