Tim Allen get into the spirit of Christmas with the Kranks
Tim Allen is happy that people love his family movies, and he’ll continue making holiday comedies like Christmas with the Kranks. He would, however, like the opportunity to try other things. However, because he’s had so much success on a family sitcom and in the Santa Clause and Toy Story movies, studios and audiences have been resistant to Allen’s darker side.
“For Cletis Tout, I play a murderer and the first cut of that was I killed three people,” Allen said. “I shot them in the face. They screened it and people were going [crying], ‘Oh God, the Tool Man just shot people. Oh God!’ I said, ‘What do you expect? You wanted me for this movie but this is what I do.’ I mean, I can shoot people. I’m an actor. But you see me doing stuff and people get used to what you’re doing. ‘There’s other actors that can play villains. We don’t want to see you play a villain.’ This is how I feel about it. I don’t know exactly what the population senses. ‘But let Bruce Willis shoot people in the face because he can’t do the goofy, weird shit that you can do. So just do the goofy, weird shit and let him do that.’ I like to play against type. I have scripts that I’ve pitched and then the studio goes, ‘I don’t think people want to see you do that.’ And that translates as, ‘We’re not going to pay you to do that because we have other guys that would do that. We like your script. We’ll pay to have somebody else do it, but you kind of do goofy family sh*t and that’s what we’d like you to keep doing.’ And I have no problem with that. I understand that.”
What’s funny to Allen is that his original comedy material was not family friendly. “If you know my stand-up it’s not goofy, family sh*t. I was a pretty dark comedian. And scatological at times, and genitals and f*cking and women and men and f*ck you f*ck f*ck, and then all of a sudden I’m the family guy on Home Improvement and I don’t know how that happened because it certainly wasn’t my act. It was my act, but peppered with a lot of blue stuff. Then all of a sudden I’m the family guy and I think I know what’s appropriate for children because I know exactly what’s inappropriate because I did it most of my life.”
Christmas with the Kranks is decidedly a family movie. There are no dirty words and the most sexual innuendo involves taking off a Christmas sweater and going to a tanning salon. Allen plays a father who decides to skip Christmas since his only daughter is out of town, and take his wife on a Caribbean cruise instead. His neighbors declare a comic war on him to get him to participate in the neighborhood Christmas, but only when his daughter makes a surprise return home does he get the Christmas spirit. When he stands in the snow observing the holiday warmth, even Allen got into the moment.
“It was a wonderfully designed moment because I asked Joe if he could shoot me alone in that street. It was a big deal. They had to re-dust that whole neighborhood because we had people walking. And it was a big deal to add another six inches of snow and stand in that street and it was for almost a half hour to get it just right. And then walk and then walk and then walk. I really felt that was pivotal to that guy. I really became an actor for a moment. No jokes, I couldn’t do fart jokes, I couldn’t talk about my groin. I had to stand there and act.”
The moment comes after Allen’s character makes the ultimate Christmas gesture to an elderly couple. M. Emmet Walsh plays the old man who is particularly mean to Allen’s character, so when they shared their heartwarming scene, Allen could tell it affected them too.
“It really was a tough scene to do because they were great. Great actors listen well and that’s what I learned in that. I looked in their eyes and they were choked up. They’d been sitting in that f*cking house all night. I mean, the way they do movies is ridiculous. They had to sit in the window so that when they shot over me, you see them in the window. And this took seven hours and they sat at that table.”
Allen felt the moment was not sappy because the writing was honest. Chris Columbus adapted John Grisham’s book Skipping Christmas into the screenplay for Christmas with the Kranks. “They did not screw around with it. Not a lot of words, get to it, and there wasn’t any room. I asked him to give me a lonely scene then. Let me stand there a long time by myself. You see the family, everybody having fun, connected. Then you see across the street two people that are sad and lonely. It’s all through the season you’ll find that. My parents work in a soup kitchen in Detroit and the contrast is remarkable. And very little effort increases people’s happiness quotient by a lot. By giving a little bit of yourself, and that’s what that guy did. It’s a nice turn in that movie.”
Christmas with the Kranks will not be Allen’s last Christmas movie, as he has The Santa Clause 3 in development. “We’re working on it. But as difficult as it is, I’m very attached to Disney because I’ve done so much work and so the process is not like this one. This was so easy and it just doesn’t happen that often. The first Santa Clause was perfect. This script on Kranks whether you like or dislike the movie is not what I’m talking about, what I’m talking about is that the script was great. It was easy to do. Santa Clause 3 has not been easy to do. We fleshed out Santa Clause 2, it took us almost four years to get it. I kept saying no. It was ridiculous the stuff they came up with because it’s easy. The third one I’d like it to cap it so you could have a three disc set and the first one is still the sweetest one. The middle one is like Aliens, which I love, the Cameron version, ‘Come and get me, you bitch.’ That’s the best one. That’s where I kind of geared Santa 2 at. Santa 3 has to be as sweet as the first one. It has to wrap it back in so kids have something to believe in and we don’t want to schmaltz it up, and it’s been really tough. This one is really a hard nut to crack. We’ve got some wonderful stuff in it right now, a wonderful big concept, but it quickly gets too big so the kids would be running around the theater because they won’t understand it. You don’t want it to be that, but you don’t want to be too simple so parents don’t enjoy it. It’s a hard line to cross.”
Christmas with the Kranks opens Wednesday.
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