We’ll start here: Christmas With the Kranks is a terrible movie. It’s bad, really bad. As a movie, it should be relieved that it’s a Christmas movie because that’s the only reason why people continue to watch it. Well, unless you’re a hardcore Tim Allen head or you gear your movie-watching towards those that only include a scene in which Jamie Lee Curtis barely has any clothes on. I mean if that’s the case, you’re basically watching Christmas With the Kranks and True Lies on a loop.
That’s a weird way to live.
If you haven’t seen Christmas With the Kranks, I will quickly bring you up to speed on this train wreck of a movie. Yes, there will be spoilers. No, I’m not sorry about that. If anything, I’m doing you a favor. You’re welcome.
Allen and Curtis are the Kranks. His name is Luther, her name is something. They have a daughter named Blair. Blair is off to Peru because she’s a good person and everyone loves her. As a result of her trip to Peru, her parents have decided to bail on Christmas and go on a cruise instead. Makes sense to me, but not to everyone else in town and the Kranks’ neighborhood especially, all of whom take the Kranks’ decision very personally. There is a dust-up involving Frostys on people’s roofs, cops selling calendars of cops posing provocatively, and not-so-subtle attempts at intimidation.
Also, Tim Allen gets Botox. Why? I don’t know.
But plot twist! Blair announces she is coming home after all! So the Kranks ditch the cruise and hastily throw together Christmas, including their fabled Christmas Eve party, which the whole neighborhood looks forward to for some reason that is never made all that clear. And despite their previously held sour grapes towards Luther and his wife, the neighbors are suddenly all cool with them, banding together to make Christmas happen because Blair is coming home and everyoneeffin’ loves Blair. They do. Like, a lot. As for the cruise, Luther, compelled by the warming spirit of Christmas, gives the tickets to his neighbor and sick wife. There’s also a dude in a Santa outfit who sells umbrellas. He drives a VW Beetle, an old one, not the kind that has a place on the dash for a lone flower to brighten up your day.
Again, this movie is terrible. And now it’s the Christmas season, meaning that it’s the time of year where much to my chagrin, I keep thinking about this abomination of a movie. Christmas With the Kranks is definitely horrible and it is in no way worth watching, even if it is a Christmas movie and as someone who celebrates Christmas, I’m contractually obligated to pretend to like all Christmas movies this time of year. But quality (or lack thereof) aside, it’s stuck with me and as a result, I have some questions, specifically 25, one for each day of the Christmas season.
1. How do people in the Kranks’ neighborhood deal with people of the Jewish faith, i.e. people who don’t celebrate Christmas? I’m assuming not well given their reaction to the Kranks electing to sit Christmas out, but I’m still curious. I’m afraid to ask their thoughts on Muslims.
2. With a name like Luther Krank, you’re destined to be an asshole, right?
3. Did you know John Grisham wrote the story this movie is based on? How do you go from The Firm to this hot garbage?
4. On that note, Grisham just wrote this as a money grab, right? It’s like how every musician inevitably records a Christmas song because it’s easy money. Look at Johnny G, chasing those dollar bills yo.
5. Speaking of money grabs, who was the most money grabbiest of them all: Allen, Curtis, Grisham, or Dan Akroyd? Allen was only a few years removed from Home Improvement and had already logged two tours appearing in The Santa Clause movies as well as starring in two Toy Story movies. He couldn’t have been hurting for cash. Curtis’ career wasn’t dead by any means either, but you could see it as slightly sluggish. The same being said for Akroyd. And yeah, Grisham, he had to have been doing okay by 2004, when Christmas With the Kranks was released. Overall though, all four of these people were doing just fine and we would like to think better of them than to have been simply drawn to this magical Christmas story. So what gives? Who was grabbing for cash the most? I think I’m going with Allen.
6. As for Akroyd, what’s up with his character? He “runs” the neighborhood. What the hell does that even mean? Is their neighborhood a criminal organization? Is it full of Italian immigrants and this is Brooklyn in the early 1900s? I’m confused.
7. No really, what’s his deal? He claims to know the police chief. Is he in the mob? A union organizer? Is he both?
8. Also, is his character in love with Blair? He changes his tune on the Kranks pretty damn quickly once he hears Blair is coming home. He all but says that he still thinks Luther is a son of a gun, but because it’s Blair, he’s willing to cast aside his beef. This seemed like a pretty big beef, a porterhouse of a beef, and tough to just cast aside. Tough enough to question a person’s motivations actually.
9. And wait, is everyone in love with Blair? The whole neighborhood all switched gears super quick once they heard she was making an appearance and actually coming home. They were a few cocktails away from firebombing the Kranks’ house but once the Blair news hit, they were chipping in to help decorate. What gives?
10. Blair’s a good-looking gal and that factors into this, right? Let’s not be naive here. History has long proven to be forgiving and downright super accommodating to the good-looking folks living among us. You’d have to think that if Blair looked a little less…uh…appealing, the neighborhood’s attitude towards her might differ slightly. It’s a terrible stance to take, but it’s a realistic one. Come on. We’re all adults here. We get it.
11. So Blair goes to Peru for the Peace Corps or something and doesn’t just surprise her parents by coming home for Christmas, she comes home engaged. Didn’t she just leave for Peru at Thanksgiving? Damn, Blair.
12. Did Blair meet her boo immediately upon arriving in Peru, have a whirlwind romance, and less than a month later find herself engaged, or had the two been corresponding beforehand via AOL Instant Messenger? Although given the apparent magnetism of Blair and people’s attitudes towards her, I guess we can’t be surprised that she’d find a suitor so quickly. You’d have to think that Enrique had to fight off a bevy of dudes to win her heart. One of them was probably Dan Akroyd.
13. And I’m sorry, shouldn’t Enrique have asked Luther’s permission before proposing? It’s called tradition, Enrique.
14. This movie is about the dangers of peer pressure, right?
15. Upon realizing that the cruise is never going to happen, a dejected Luther has a little pity party for himself, but then he rallies and walks across the street to give both the cruise and plane tickets to his elderly neighbor and his wife, who “has her good days and bad days” due to some mysterious illness. It’s a nice gesture. However, it’s a slightly problematic one. Gifting someone plane tickets and cruise tickets with your name on it might have worked in the pre-9/11 era, but this movie presumably takes place after that (it was made in 2004.) I know Luther tells the old couple across the street that he’ll take care of it, but like, how? These are plane tickets we’re talking about here. Those are some of the few things in life that can’t be changed. What the hell is Luther Crank and his black turtleneck going to do? I’m sorry, but this seems like an empty promise on Luther’s part. Well, unless Akroyd’s character knows someone who can handle the situation, which I don’t think we should rule out.
16. Does Luther give the old couple the tickets because he legitimately wants them to go or because he knows he can’t go and it’s too late to change the reservation? Is it because he feels like offering it to them is enough of a nice gesture to ease his troubled conscience? I’m going with the latter.
17. If the guy who dresses up as Santa Claus actually might be Santa Claus, are we then to believe Santa spends his offseason keeping tabs on folks by selling umbrellas on the street of wherever this movie takes place?
18. I wonder if stealing Christmas trees is something that actually happens on a fairly regular basis around Christmas time. And not stealing them from a Christmas tree lot or Christmas tree farm, but stealing a fully decorated tree from someone’s house. If it is something that happens, the smart money is on it happening in Florida.
19. Not really much of a question here, but the music in the movie makes a lot of sense when you see that Steven Van Zandt was the one picking the tunes.
20. Wait, how did Van Zandt get roped into this?
21. WHY THE HELL DOES TIM ALLEN’S CHARACTER GET BOTOX? He goes tanning, I get that. You want to get a base tan going before going on vacation. But the Botox, though?
22. Who eats a cup of peaches at a restaurant? Oh wait, they’re at the hospital. Do hospital cafeterias sell cups of peaches? Wouldn’t those just be reserved for patients? Did Luther steal a cup of peaches from a patient? Eh, I wouldn’t put it past him.
23. You know, Jamie Lee does bring up some good points. It’s totally fine to go away for Christmas, but why couldn’t they still put lights on their house? They’re trying to save money, cool. Smart. But it’s not like decorating for Christmas would have had that much of a financial impact on the Kranks. Not decorating or putting any lights up, let alone the snowman on the roof, just seems unnecessary.
24. And please, at least one person in their neighborhood each year is getting hurt placing their Frosty on their roof, right? That’s a ridiculous tradition. Just put them in the front yard. You don’t get extra points for putting your life in jeopardy. Actually, Vic might actually give extra points for something like that. They really take their Christmas decorating seriously.
25. I bet the 4th of July is off the chain in the Kranks’ neighborhood, right?
I can’t stress this enough. Don’t watch this movie. If you have seen it, don’t watch it again.
Ryan harbors a constant fear of losing his keys, prefers flip flops, and will always choose cereal if it’s an option. He maintains his own blog, Giddy Up America, and has previously contributed work to UPROXX & Heavy. Ryan is on Twitter: @ryanoconnell79