If Christmas With
the Kranks had come out at any other time in history, I would have
just written it off as a really, really, REALLY bad movie. After all, it
is a holiday comedy without a single laugh or any Christmas spirit. It
completely overlooks the spiritual or family qualities of the season in favor
of dumb slapstick gags and
cheap jokes about botox.
of this would be bad enough. However, that doesn't start to explain how
devious, how downright evil, this movie truly is. The worst part is, I
get a feeling that the filmmakers don't even recognize what they have
done, why the film is a horrible justification of mob mentality and the
most un-American (at least it would have been seen that
way in the pre-Bush days) movie I have ever seen.
So maybe I am a little oversensitive just a few weeks
after living through the most
contentious, divided and dividing Presidential election ever.
Nonetheless, a movie I would have just casually dismissed as crap any
other year; now it actually made my blood boil.
You may say I'm
giving way too much sociological weight to what is essentially just the
third dumb movie made specifically to show Tim Allen make
stupid jokes about Santa and fall off his roof in the
snow, and you
may very well be right. However, I have to say that the only thing I find
more disturbing than this horribly unfunny comedy is the condescending,
downright wrong-headed idea it espouses. The film
suggests that just because the Kranks do not agree with
their neighbors, they are wicked and deserve to be punished. Christmas
With the Kranks is the far, far right wing of holiday pictures and I personally am
not going to let it get away with its little fascist agenda.
Skipping Christmas, but it
loses all of the understated humor and satire of the original (and it's a
pretty bad sign when you get out-subtled by John Grisham.). The film is loosely
based on John Grisham's comic novella
It all starts out
innocently enough. Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis play Luther and
Nora Krank, a couple of empty-nesters whose grown daughter joins the Peace
Corps and is not coming
home for Christmas for the first time. The couple decide that there
is no point in knocking themselves out for a Christmas to be spent alone.
Why not take a cruise instead?
Makes perfect sense to
More importantly, it
makes perfect sense to them. After all, they are allowed to keep
Christmas, or not keep it, as they see fit. This is America, right?
It turns out the Kranks
live on one of those blocks where everyone goes all out in decorating
their houses, complete with thousands of twinkly lights, life-sized Rudolphs,
huge candy canes and giant Frostys on every roof. Which is fine, I actually
often enjoy it when people decide they want to go hog wild on Christmas
decorations. However, when the Kranks decide that they do not want
to participate this year, it causes a neighborhood controversy.
Instead of recognizing
the Kranks' situation, the neighboring boobs start an operation of abuse,
intimidation and mean-spiritedness. They picket the Krank house, try
to embarrass them, cause them physical and mental anguish. Chief
amongst these nosy neighbors are M. Emmet Walsh and Dan Aykroyd. It is a crime that this film
is the first reunion between Aykroyd and Curtis since the brilliant comedy
Trading Spaces in 1982.
Oddly, the movie seems
to agree with the neighbors. The Kranks can try to hang on to their
non-conformist pleasure-cruising ways, but they are just wrong. They
have to celebrate the season, whether they like it or not! The
community knows what is good for them, so they will have to survive a
series of ridiculous pratfalls and receive their comeuppance.
And the triumphant
holiday finale? The Kranks knuckle under to peer pressure and decorate
their house so that it looks like all the others. Hallelujah, oh
happy day, hark the herald angels sing. An unruly mob is able to
antagonize people into going against their own wishes for their own lives
and instead join in celebrating the gaudiest, cheesiest aspects of the
holiday season. It has nothing to do with religion (the religious
aspects of Christmas are conspicuously ignored.). It has nothing to
do with a sense of community; the Kranks' neighbors are selfish,
unlikable, smug assholes. It all has to do with bullying people
until they share your viewpoint. Quite an uplifting message for the
In the immortal words
of an much more interesting holiday character from an infinitely better
story, "Bah humbug!" (11/04)