It's December and most people are getting into the holiday spirit. Some are putting up decorations, children are making lists to Santa, and others are watching holiday themed films to get them in the spirit. However, that last activity brought out a thought; what is the worst Christmas film ever made? The answer came quickly when I remembered "Christmas with the Kranks" exists. Though it may be technically competent and colorful, "Christmas with the Kranks" embodies the terrible way many choose to "celebrate" Christmas.
The film centers around the Kranks (Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis) as they are about to celebrate their first Christmas without their daughter (who's in South America in the Peace Corps). The couple decide, instead of celebrating Christmas the "traditional" way, to celebrate the holidays by going on a cruise. This decision, for some reason, earns them scorn and judgement of their neighbors and friends. Hilarity supposedly ensues, although it mostly just amounts to mild slapstick gags and pratfalls. However, that's not the real reason this film is unbearable.
This film is near unwatchable, because almost everyone in it is a terrible person. All of the neighbors and friends surrounding the Kranks are weirdly judgmental and treat them terribly all because they want to celebrate the holidays on a cruise. Who are they to judge someone for not getting trees or putting up lights? I guess this is a town where Jews, Muslims, and Non-Christians just don't exist. Considering how the the town treats people who don't conform to tradition I can see why.
This brings me to the real problem of the film, it sides with the people who demand conformity. People wanting to celebrate or not celebrate in their own way are seen as selfish and harmful (even though it doesn't really harm anyone). It feels like a film made by one of those "delightful" people who think the "War on Christmas" is real and declare their outrage when people say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. This would have actually been a good movie to explore the terrible way some use the holiday to enforce broad cultural conformity had it not been for two things; the film sides with the townspeople and makes the Kranks out to be unreasonable jerks.
Tim Allen's character derives the most scorn. When he proposes the cruise idea, he says he wants a "total blackout" of the holiday. This wouldn't be a problem if he didn't also extend that to the Christmas charities that they give to every year. Allen's character also takes a weird amount of pride in this, to the point that he prints out flyers proudly proclaiming he's skipping Christmas and hands them out to everyone at his work. This extra bit makes him come off as kind of "Grinchy" and like he intentionally desires everyone's scorn.
This film unintentionally hammers home everything wrong with the modern American mindset surrounding Christmas. It feels less like a means to celebrate and more like a reason to enforce a sense of cultural conformity. We judge those who don't put up lights and decorations as not "one of us". At a time were we should be getting along, regardless of belief, some enforce division and "otherness" of people. These people "celebrate" Christmas the same way many "believe" in Christianity, on a completely superficial level ignoring the spirit and the morals that actually make those things good.
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