Your Grrrs: Dec. 7, 2004

Your movie reviews:

J. Kelly on "Christmas With the Kranks": There are Christmas movies galore, some bad, some very good. The good ones remind you of what the Christmas spirit really is — loving, giving, sharing the warmth of your home with someone lonely, spending time with your family. Of all the Christmas movies, only a few truly capture that joy and love.

And this is not one of them.

"Christmas With the Kranks" is supposed to be an adaptation of John Grisham's "Skipping Christmas," but somehow I doubt the author put so many Botox jokes into his novel. Basically, the story is that when the Kranks' daughter goes off to Peru to join the Peace Corps, all the joy of the holiday is sucked out of their lives. They in turn suck it out of the viewers' lives.

Understandably sad, parents Luther and Nora decide to go on a cruise for Christmas. Now, ordinarily, this would be a good story about the true meaning of Christmas -- if Luther and Nora were human beings, they'd send out their Christmas cards with the announcement: "Our daughter is out of the country, and we miss her so much that we haven't the heart to celebrate this year. So instead we're going on a cruise." They would beg off all receiving of gifts and invitations, make their charitable donations and then face the misunderstanding of neighbors. But they are not human beings, and they soon prove it. Luther sends out a snide memo around the office that "We're not giving any gifts." He tries to talk his wife out of making their contributions to the children's hospital. They are systematically ugly to everyone about this year's celebration or lack thereof, almost to the tune of "We're above all that."

Thus, the "Christmas Nazi" gag on the part of the neighbors would have been a lot more to-the-point if the Kranks had been more gracious. But instead of coming away from this movie muttering to yourself that "Every shallow fool who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips and not in his heart should be boiled in his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart," you only find yourself wondering whom you should sue to get back those two hours of your life.

I felt empty and bitter after this movie — or maybe it was just the fact that I'd paid $5 for a box of popcorn that wound up half unpopped kernels. I had to watch several runs of "Charlie Brown Christmas" and "Scrooge" before I felt more like hanging my stocking than hanging the director.

W.B. Heffernan Jr.: I saw the headline for a review of "Alexander" in the Washington Times, and, as someone who has been reading children's stories to my children and grandchildren for many years, did not have to read any further. The headline was, "Alexander, the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad movie."

Dyann Lake on the "Bridget Jones" sequel: SHAME. Shame on everybody involved with this movie. What a waste of time to sit through this movie. Shame, shame, shame.

Michael D. Britton: My wife and I went to take our (almost) 4-year-old niece to see "The Incredibles." Well, the next three shows were sold out, so we went to "The Polar Express" instead. This movie was really fantastic! The animation was unreal. Or, er, it looked real, but of course, it was not. Well, you know what I mean -- it was truly excellent, visually. The story was unique, and the whole experience very worthwhile. We will certainly be buying the DVD when it comes out. Our niece, whose attention-span is typically short, was engrossed and enthralled with the entire film. Bravo!

Ian Harper on "The Incredibles": "The Incredibles" is by far the best and brightest creation to emerge from Pixar’s partnership with Disney — high praise indeed, with hits like "Toy Story," "Monsters, Inc." and "Finding Nemo" already making movie history. The story moves along at about the same speed as Dash, one of the main characters whose power should be obvious. The writing and editing put this movie among that enjoyable group of masterpieces that one has to watch five times to fully appreciate (and believe me, this critic intends to.) The voice work, sound effects and animation lend the finished product a superbly coordinated feel, like chips and salsa and cream cheese, or chocolate milk and ice cream and bananas — or Mr. Incredible and Elasti-Girl and Frozone. The length is perfect: At the end I wanted more, yet I was ready for a bathroom break and a stretch. One word of caution: This movie contains more graphic violence than all of Pixar’s other works combined. It’s one of the best movies I’ve even seen, but I’m 30. I wouldn’t take a very young and impressionable child to see this one. Parents and guardians make sure you screen it for your kids — you’ll have a blast in the process!

Denise Anderson on "National Treasure": First, I have to say, if you can't suspend reality when you go to a movie (even a documentary like Fahrenheit 9/11 needs a reality suspension,) then you shouldn't be going to the movies at all. Don't you hate it when people say "That's ridiculous, that could never happen". Duh! It's a MOVIE! There has to be a term for people like that -- like "Movidiots". Anyhow, blurb for National Treasure: "A really stupid, implausible, yet very entertaining movie."

Terri Maurer on "National Treasure": Hi Mike, really enjoy all of your work. I have told all my friends about you. About the movie review: My husband, two teenage sons and I went to see "National Treasure." I would like to recommend this movie to anyone, for those of you with small children or older like mine. Whatever their age, they will enjoy the mystery and intrigue, and you can actually enjoy it with them without cringing at language, violence or sex scenes. Please Hollywood, have the courage to make more like this. There is an audience for it.

Heather on "National Treasure": Don't wait for this one to come out on video — go see it now. It's funny, it's exciting, it's suspenseful ... it held my attention the entire two hours and 10 minutes that I sat there trying to keep my bladder from bursting because I didn't want to get up and miss any part of the movie. Even my boyfriend liked it, and he has long hair, tattoos and drives a motorcycle. The movie is PG-13, and there were no embarrassing sex scenes to watch with your children, so go ahead and bring your teenagers to this one. The movie reminds me of a modern day "Indiana Jones" with some interesting historical aspects to it. Two thumbs up!

Paul from Romeo, Mich.: My wife and I took our four children to see the "Polar Express"(search) at a matinee. Despite the exorbitant price for a matinee ($6 for children and $7 for adults, Big GRRR!), the movie was fantastic! There are lessons learned by the children and also for adults who miss the magic of Christmas. On the way out of the theater, my son asked if we could buy the movie and watch it again at home. There is also a book and both are sure to become Christmas classics.

Tommy Barrios on "Ray": I saw "Ray" (search) with my wife and I can honestly say I have was very moved by the whole movie. The complexity of human emotion runs the full spectrum. Everyone's performance was top notch and very believable. The performance by Jamie Foxx, though, was stellar. I really felt like I was watching Ray Charles as an adult, twisting and turning though his life's pleasures and torments. Having lived through the same time frame as his young adult years as a juvenile and teenager, I identify with the racial inequality of the Jim Crow south, having lived in Louisiana most of my early years. I must admit I had tears rolling down my face during all the heart-rending moments and joy surging through me in all the positive and uplifting portions of the film, of which there are many. This is a film for everyone to see no matter what kind of music you like, for it is the music that really gets to you, that really speaks to you, about Ray.

Jessica on "National Treasure": I saw this movie on Thanksgiving day at a local movie theater that charges $5 a ticket and $1 for popcorn (yes, there are a few left around.) "National Treasure" was a good movie. Don't walk into the theater thinking you're going to see a historical epic or even a "DaVinci Code"-caliber mystery. Walk into this movie knowing you are about to see a Jerry Bruckheimer film that stars Nicolas Cage. It contains a bit of "historical facts" -- dont' worry if they are accurate or not, just enjoy the ride. It's far-fetched and a little over-dramatic at times but has great action and is NOT predictable. I myself wasn't able to take my eyes off Nicolas Cage's teeth, they seemed overly large and white, they were a presence in themselves. I give this movie a thumbs up, 4 stars, or whatever system you would like to use. Will I buy it? No. Would it have been a great rental? Yes. With movie prices as high as $11 in some places, people are scared to watch a bad movie. This movie seemed to be worth $8.50 in my opinion. This is what I told everyone about the movie. I think it fits.

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Mike Straka is director of operations and special projects and a columnist for, and contributes as a features reporter and producer on "FOX Magazine." He was also in the movie "Analyze This," and has appeared in various commercials, theater and TV roles.

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