©2008 Big Empire Industries and Randy Shandis Enterprises
Every right imaginable is reserved.


This week:
Christmas with a Buttload of Pricks

Filthy says:
"They ripped out Santa's heart and shit on it."

You know how sometimes a bad movie is like a car wreck? You just can't help looking. Christmas with the Kranks is a car wreck. It's also riding in the ambulance all the way to the hospital alongside a howling four-year old whose arm was severed in the crash, seeing bloody bone tearing from a woman's thigh and then stuffing your head into the chest cavity of the 72-year-old who was impaled on a steering column. This movie is so fucking bad I'd rather have my dick lanced with a junkie's needle at the 15th Street Tavern than see it again.

Goddammit! I just started thinking about it again and got so mad I punched myself in the face. I am a fucking idiot. And not even a smart one.

Who the fuck is responsible? Joe Roth, that's who. Owner of Revolution Studios, a company that processes more shit than the toilets outside Circus-Circus' buffet. Directing here, he draws on his vast experience from shitty, derivative movies like America's Sweetheart and Revenge of the Nerds 2, and the executive producing prowess that only comes from guiding Daddy Day Care and Tears of the Sun to the big screen. He apparently hasn't seen a low-brow, dimwitted one-sentence gimmick he didn't love enough to turn it into a half-assed celluloid fart. I'm pretty sure Revolution even made a bad, bad sex comedy starring Jerry O'Connell. That's how little Roth cares.

What a fucking asshole. Is he proud? Does he think he's made something good? I doubt it. Christmas with the Kranks feels like, "Fuck it, those idiots in the sticks are stupid enough to buy anything." I'm sure the source material novel by John Grisham is crap, but it can't possibly be this bad. It feels like a dumb idea dumbed down by the masters of dumb.

Tim Allen--a bad comic who has gotten worse as he's gotten older, fatter and richer--is Luther Krank, a middle-manager with no distinct job responsibilities. Once his daughter leaves to join the Peace Corps, he and his high-strung, whine-at-most, squeal-at-the-rest wife (Jamie Lee Curtis) decide to forgo their usual Christmas and spend the money on a Caribbean cruise. Allen relishes the idea, a chance to get away from all the conspicuous consumption of the holiday with a simple, conspicuous consumption cruise. Fine by me. But in the unrealistic, shit-sticky world of Christmas with the Kranks, everyone else gives a big stinky shit. The neighbors are infuriated that the Kranks won't put up Christmas ornaments. Allen's co-workers call him Scrooge and belittle him. People think they have no Christmas spirit, and could there be anything worse. My God, they might as well be Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or something equally horrible! Everyone in this movie is Christian in the Santa sense but not the Jesus sense. Practically everyone is white. And annoying.

I gotta ask: who gives a fuck if you don't put up lights? I could skip Christmas and nobody'd notice. We all could. In the movie, though, all these vapid, self-righteous baby-boomers are so consumed with Christmas spirit they can't shut the fuck up about it. And the spirit that everyone is so obsessed with comes from catalogs. Kranks asks us to believe that ten-year-old boys give a nancy's left nut whether a neighbor puts a snowman on his roof. Or that a koffee klatsch thinks it isn't Christmas without spending the Eve with a shrieking Jamie Lee Curtis and gelatinous ham (so, then, I guess that makes two gelatinous hams).

Anyway, Allen and Curtis' Christmas plans are put on hold when, at the last minute, their fat-faced daughter calls to say she's coming home with her brand new doctor fiance. Kranks never reconciles this with the opening scenes where she's headed out to the Peace Corps in Peru and says she can't come home for a year. But complaining about that's like picking nits off a monkey with ebola. With the daughter coming home, Allen and Curtis decide to cancel their cruise and slap together a real, massive, commercial Christmas at home, complete with parties, excessive ornaments and lights. Why they can't just tell the daughter, "Too fucking bad. We're going on a trip" is beyond me. Why they can't say, "Come on home, we'll cancel our trip, but we aren't going to have a huge party," has got to be beyond anyone with a brain. We're supposed to believe that these adults are so scared shitless by their daughter that they can't possibly reveal anything beyond the facade of a personal life to her.

Of course, Allen is upset that his cruise is cancelled, but he softens and learns the true meaning of Christmas is in getting together with your annoying neighbors and buying a lot of shit to prove you've got spirit. It helps that the saint of a neighbor is dying of cancer. Man is that ever convenient.

Christmas with the Kranks is mind-boggling bad: stupid, unfunny, insincere and shallower than the pools at Holiday Inns since the lawyers got involved. The script is lazy and relies on the easiest jokes and plot contrivances. In the movie, Allen keeps moaning that he's spent six weeks planning this cruise, even though he started the Monday after Thanksgiving. Funny, I only count four weeks there. If writer Chris Columbus (a world-class hack) can't even bother to count correctly, how can we expect him to try with the jokes? Instead he relies on comedy where a man avoids stepping in a pothole full of water, only to get doused by a car zooming by. Followed by a wacky sound effect, of course. In fact, every gag is punctuated with wacky sound effects. I'm sure if Roth could have, he would have had a laughtrack too. And a few more blatant product placements would have been better than watching Curtis' histrionics.

One unbelievably uncomfortable scene in has Allen and Curtis exit a tanning salon and their priest sees them in their bathing suits. The movie tries to wring laughs out of their guilt and shame, but why the fuck would they feel guilty? What the fuck did they do wrong? Cut the heart out of a goat on the church lawn, sure I can understand some embarrassment. But this isn't the only way the movie can't even understand right from wrong.

Christmas with the Kranks starts out as a story of one couple boycotting the commercialization of Christmas. But Allen not only refuses to buy anything, he refuses to even acknowledge well wishes. They can't even send out cards or donate to charity. What an asshole. Typical of Hollywood, the movie is too simplistic to recognize that you can celebrate Christmas without spending a dime. Hell, I do it every year and you wouldn't believe the nice stuff people just throw into tavern trash cans.

By the end of the movie, all anti-commercialization is thrown out the door anyway. The only way Allen and Curtis know to show their daughter Christmas is by doing and buying all the stupid shit they said they'd avoid. They, and Hollywood, are too imagination-free to dream up anything but the overload of ornaments, trees, decorations and expensive gifts. And of course, it's the tangible goods that bring everyone closer together.

Allen's redemption from being Christmas-avoiding humbug to soft-hearted pussy comes when he sees his cancer-stricken neighbor eating with her husband, and not at his big party. He goes over and offers them the cruise tickets. She's gonna die, he figures, so why not let her suffer through bad buffets, seasickness and cramped quarters on the way. He explains that the cruise is non-refundable, and if the sick lady doesn't take the tickets they'll go to waste. Wow! That's quite a sacrifice. Why not just take her the turkey carcass after the family's done eating and the dog's had a go at it and say, "Here, if you don't eat it we'll just have to throw it away"?

Actually, maybe that's what Roth is doing with this movie: "Here, America. Eat this shit. If you don't it'll only go down the toilet." One Lousy Finger for Christmas with the Kranks. Way to go, Hollywood; you've made Jesus cry.

Help Filthy || Want to tell Filthy Something?



The 700 Club

Christmas with the Kranks is "A Four Star Holiday Comedy! Tim Allen has never been funnier! An instant family classic!"

And Joel Siegel of Good Morning America

The Polar Express is "An instant Christmas Classic!"

You know, because we're in too big a hurry to see if they'll withstand the test of time before calling them classics.

Filthy's Reading
Edited by Michael Chabon - McSweeney's Mammoth Book of Chilling Tales

Listening to
Cake - Comfort Eagle


A Charlie Brown Christmas