For some unknown reason, people love Christmas with the Kranks, and every year I end up watching the film despite my attempts to avoid it. Few movies make me cringe like this one – the Kranks (Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis) are a perfectly reasonable couple who wish to escape the cult of Christmas by spending time together on a cruise. Their fascist neighbors have other plans; through disturbing and illegal acts of coercion, the neighborhood systematically makes the lives of the Krank family a living hell until the couple agree to conform to society and celebrate Christmas like all good people must do.
Be it the abuse of police power or invasive caroling, the tactics used by the pro-Christmas forces are nothing short of horrific. I shiver instead of laugh as a maniacal block captain Vic Frohmeyer (Dan Aykroyd) brainwashes an army of children to protest the Krank’s refusal to decorate their home with an inflatable Frosty the Snowman. The justification for this idiocy is Frohmeyer’s looming fear that his neighborhood will lose some asinine award for Best Decorated Street. And to the movie, that seems perfectly reasonable.
Despite the Krank’s charitable donations to the church and a children’s hospital in the name of the true spirit of Christmas, the couple are consistently painted as disturbers of the peace, simply for not wanting to spend money on frivolous crap and otherwise celebrate in the same manner as their evil neighbors. In the real world, the Kranks would be the only good-natured people to exist in this backwards community. But in the world created by the movie, the Kranks are villainous nails that must be hammered down for the good of the whole!
I can’t help but feel that, if the neighborhood’s “heroes” were Muslims instead of Christians, their militant push for holiday conformity would be seen as an act of cultural terrorism, resulting in audience outrage over what would be an attack on American values. Luckily, the neighborhood is made up almost exclusively of white Christians, so judging their collective insanity isn’t necessary – blind unity will suffice.
Christmas with the Kranks is an anthem for fools everywhere who think Christmas is under assault due to a lack of universal celebration, and the film vindicates the harassment of anyone who dares worship differently. In no way does it embody the spirit of the holidays, nor does its backwards message bring about any feelings of warmth or joy. If I live the rest of my days without ever seeing this movie again, my life will be better off. But somehow, every year Christmas with the Kranks gets enough screen time to be nearly impossible to avoid, possibly because it’s more honest about the contemporary nature of Christmas than most movies dare to be.