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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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'
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Filthy || Want to tell Filthy