Christmas with the Kranks

Bomb Rating: 

Watching "Christmas with the Kranks" is like watching a dead body being devoured by maggots. It's not like the corpse can just get up two-thirds of the way through and decide that it wants to live.

This movie is essentially a Communist propaganda film.

I truly cannot express how much pain I was in while watching this movie. I think I maybe came out of my suicidal funk like once and that was when the little girl behind me kicked the back of my chair. The rest of the time, I seriously considered running to the front of the theater, lopping off my penis with a dull kitchen utensil, and using it like a piece of bloody chalk to draw the words "HELP ME" on the screen as high as I could reach. Such an act of self-torture / self-expression would have been positively joyous compared to sitting through this crap.

"Christmas with the Kranks" is directed by Joe ("America's Sweethearts") Roth and written by Chris ("Nine Months") Columbus, whose separate contributions to the stench of cinema are legendary. Watching their mating on this project is something like imagining Scott Peterson and Susan Smith getting married and deciding to raise a family. This film is an absolute abomination; a sickening, twisted, unpleasant, shit-eating experience. I wanted to die.

Nora Krank (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a woman who screams like a hyena with its balls in a vice every time she hears her daughter's name. If her husband Luther (Tim Allen) answers the phone and it's the kid, Nora emits a piercing emission like an alarm at a fire station. See, her daughter has left for the Peace Corps, and Nora is overly emotional because she's a woman and that's apparently just the way it is. Personally, if anyone I knew acted like Nora, I'd prescribe her an overdose of Vioxx, but we're supposed to somehow identify with this woman who appears clinically insane. At the very least, she's certifiably manic-depressive, and not in that "Hey, this is a funny character for a movie" way. I felt like I was on a suicide watch.

So because their daughter is away, the Kranks decide to skip Christmas and go on a cruise. I have no idea why this would seem at all odd to anyone. They've been raising this stupid child their entire lives, focusing all their every energy on her, and finally she's out of the house and they want to do something different. Seems reasonable to me. Unfortunately, the Kranks' neighbors are single-minded, evil robots. Without exception, the neighbors gang up on the Kranks and demand that they participate in the usual Christmas festivities. They want the Kranks to have their party, to buy a tree, to make donations, and to put out the Styrofoam snowman that everyone puts out. This is actually what passes for humor in this film.

To say that this movie is a metaphor for the sorry state of our country right now is a mild understatement. When the Kranks try to express a sentiment that could be construed as even mildly anti-Christmas, they are painted as the most selfish, evil people on the face of the planet. They are completely ostracized and made to feel like shit. The neighbors are essentially saying, "Either think like us and worship like us or we will make your lives a living hell." This isn't a comedy, it's a bonafide horror film, and one of the most frightening I've ever seen given the context.

Frankly, I almost need a new rating to give to this movie because it actually gets worse. The daughter calls up mom and dad just before they're leaving for their cruise and announces she's coming home for Christmas. Now, instead of saying what most normal people would say -- "Um, dear, we just paid $6,000 for a cruise and we're leaving tomorrow. Why the fuck didn't you tell us about this a little sooner?" -- the Kranks drop everything they're doing and try to pull off their entire Christmas itinerary in half a day. Naturally, there's no tree, no people for the party, and not a lot of empathy from the robotic neighbors, but everybody decides to pull together at the last minute and make it happen.

Watching "Christmas with the Kranks" is like watching a dead body being devoured by maggots. It's not like the corpse can just get up two-thirds of the way through and decide that it wants to live. The sad thing is, I'm not sure this movie ever even decides that. It's just a rotten mess from start to finish.

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