As we all know, there is no such thing as the “War on Christmas.” It’s a cynical, manipulative, disingenuous ploy on the part of Bill O’Reilly and FOX News to (annually) stir the Angry Hatred and White Fear Pot amidst their less-informed, more-reactionary viewers. On the one hand, it is COMPLETEY REASONABLE for someone to say “Happy Holidays” to someone else, as it suggests that you’re being respectful of the fact that you do not necessarily know their heart, and that you appreciate that person’s autonomous adult self-actualization. Meanwhile, no one gives a shit, no duh, if someone says “Merry Christmas.” That has never offended a single person, because we are all grown ups living in a world beset by wars and famines and oil sludges and economic crises. Not to mention that it’s just not an offensive thing to say, even if there weren’t bigger problems going on in the world. There is no cohesive, organized attempt to denude the nation of its religious holidays, because no one WANTS THAT, and the plain and obvious evidence of this is visible in the Christmas shit that is literally EVERYWHERE. And yet, each year, the alarms are sounded once more. It’s such a stupid lie that the fact it works at all is crazy-making. Shut up, Bill O’Reilly. Shut up, FOX News.

Speaking of stupid lies about Christmas that are so stupid they are crazy-making and should shut up, Christmas with the Kranks is one.

Christmas with the Kranks is about Luther and Nora Krank (Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis) who have just shipped their daughter off to Peru with the Peace Corps and are now facing the prospect of a Christmas alone. After getting rained on, Luther sees a poster in a window that says “Tired of getting rained on? Go on a Caribbean cruise vacation!” Seriously. “I am do what the nice poster say!” Here’s a question: why is it raining in Chicago two weeks before Christmas? And if it is raining, why is there snow in the ground? Actually, just in general, what is the timeline on this thing? Much like Love, Actually, Christmas with the Cranks operates on an INSANE timeline where everything that occurs is condensed into three weeks supposedly, and it’s like, what? But so anyway: Luke and Nora are going to go on a Caribbean cruise for Christmas. Fair enough. THEY ARE BOTH ADULTS WHO GET TO DO WHATEVER THEY WANT, AFTER ALL. But not only are they going to go away on a Caribbean cruise for Christmas, they also are going to skip Christmas altogether. This means no tree, no lights, no parties, no nothing. Again: FAIR ENOUGH. THAT IS A DECISION ADULTS CAN MAKE. And this is where the movie, which was already in bad shape, falls apart completely. Because no one will let the Kranks skip Christmas. Their neighbors–even the neighborhood children–are outraged that they won’t put up some, like, inflatable snowman decoration or something? They terrorize them and give them dirty looks and then the whole thing is on THE FRONT PAGE OF THE NEWSPAPER.


The day before their cruise, the Kranks get a phone call from their daughter, Blair, who tells them that she is coming home for Christmas. Wait a second, didn’t she JUST LEAVE two weeks ago? I’m not a Peace Corps expert, but I’m pretty sure you’re not allowed to just fly home two weeks after you get to your village, or whatever. Oh, also Blair is coming home with her FIANCE because she GOT ENGAGED. What? What is even going on? Nora Krank is very excited that her daughter is coming home and promises her that they will have a Klassik Kranks Christmas. Uh oh! That means they have to get all of the decorations and hams and party guests in just a matter of hours! That is when the neighbors step in and organize some kind of Christmas Street Team and wouldn’t you know, they donate turkeys and wreaths and ornaments and basically turn the Kranks’s house into one of those creepy Christmas superstores that are open year-round, whatever THAT is even all about. The daughter comes home and NEVER EVEN KNEW THAT HER PARENTS MIGHT HAVE GONE ON A CRUISE. Huh? Who cares? She’s old enough to do charity work in Peru but she’s not old enough to know a REALLY BORING TRUTH? They catch a burglar in the driveway? But Luther Krank is still grumpy that he doesn’t get to go on the cruise. But then he decides to give the tickets to these two old people across the street, one of whom is dying of cancer, because something something spirit of bullshit. Then it turns out the real Santa Clause as at their holiday party, I think? He seemed like maybe a pervert, but it turned out it was Santa Clause?


For a Tim Allen movie, Christmas with the Kranks is surprisingly restrained. Sure, he slips and falls off a roof and a passing car drenches him with a puddle…

…but for the most part it’s all very low-level slapstick. Which raises the question: where is the comedy supposed to be coming from? At least people falling down would make sense as a joke, but I’m not real clear on what’s supposed to be funny about a next door neighbor being incensed that you won’t put lights around your door. Perhaps the reason this doesn’t track as a comedic premise (or really any kind of premise) is that it is ABSOLUTE NONSENSE. Adults do not berate other adults for taking a warm weather vacation in the middle of winter. Perhaps the weirdest thing about this whole movie is how hard it tries to pretend like the Kranks are weird when they seem entirely normal. Like, an adult couple whose child has left the house deciding they don’t want to go through a big production for the holidays is thoroughly commonplace and acceptable. But in this movie everyone is like:

What’s wrong with you people? Is this really how adults behave?

(Also: why are they singing FASTER? That is not a thing!)

Similarly, what is wrong with the Kranks? BE ADULTS. You don’t have to constantly cower behind your blinds, or hide in the basement. You’re allowed to do what you want, and you should know that by now. And when you learn that you’re getting a surprise visit from your daughter, why do you need to lie to her and why can’t she, as a fellow adult, understand why the house isn’t overly decorated? You could even still go on your trip if you wanted, since you spent a lot of money on it. She’s 23 years old, she doesn’t need a babysitter. Is that how you raised her? Just an endless succession of placating lies and insufferable babying? Maybe that’s why she gave up on the Peace Corps two weeks into her program and got instantly engaged to a guy she barely knows. Because of what awful parenting skills you guys have. When they first make the decision to go on a cruise, Luther writes a Jerry Maguire style anti-Christmas letter and circulates it to everyone in his office, including a delivery guy. Why did he do that? He is an adult. He doesn’t have to explain himself. Does he know that? Someone should tell him that. And at another point, with his face straight PEELING OFF from TOO MUCH TANNING, Luther gets botox and dresses like Leisure Suit Larry.

As someone who has TAKEN A VACATION BEFORE, I can tell you that this stuff just makes no sense. A plane ticket doesn’t make you a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AND SUDDENLY HORRIBLE NIGHTMARE GARBAGE PERSON FROM PALM SPRINGS. So stupid and weird. So lie.

Christmas with the Kranks is based on a novel called Skipping Christmas written by John Grisham. Yikes. Should have stuck with the law stuff, dude. (Obviously, Skipping Christmas has sold a guhjillion copies and increased John Grisham’s untold Scrooge McDuck style millions, but lots of things that are terrible sell really well and make people a lot of money. So what?! We can still cross our arms and harumph about it.) Now imagine this movie was white, or whatever.

I do love that the movie wants so bad to be a CHRISTMAS MOVIE that despite the Kranks’s “insane” (not insane) refusal to celebrate Christmas or put up any decorations, much to the borderline violent protest of their friends and family and neighbors, their house still has Christmas decorations up?


Next week: Four Christmas.

Comments (142)
  1. War on Christmas talk:

    I watched Gremlins for the first time last night and I wanted everyone to know that my favorite part is when the Love Interest says she doesn’t celebrate Christmas the Wimp-Hero responds with “What are you Hindu!?” I don’t know what I liked better, his perception of Hindu as being the weirdest thing he could think of, or his utter dismissal of the many more likely possibilities, such as her being Jewish.

    Also, everyone, every single character, in that movie is wildly, unbelievably, irresponsible, in every way. Even side, already dead, characters like the Love Interest’s Dad.

  2. I understand why White American Christians get mad at “happy holidays.”
    They have been persecuted throughout history and deserve to dominate.

    • I remember seeing a newscast last year on Dec. 18 where the newscaster cheerfully proclaimed that it was “exactly one week until the holidays”, because, you know, “the holidays” = Christmas. Or maybe she thought that Hannukah, Kwaanza, etc. all fall on the same day or are just different names for Christmas.

      • That’s such a good point! Hanukkah is over, Kwanzaa is not celebrated. Christmas is in America is as secular as you can get, but just say it! I won’t get offended. Promise.

        • You raise a good point. I have never met anyone that celebrates Kwanzaa, but you watch TV every year, and it’s like Kwanzaa is a part of the 3 major religions of The United States, when actually its just something ‘Two and a half Men’ viewers think all black people do in December.

          • To be fair, Channukah started off as a holiday pretty much nobody celebrated or cared about, either. Its prominence and popularity is a direct result of its proximity to X-Mas.

            For myself and other Jews (for whom I speak, obviously), this provides something resembling an ideal compromise. Gentiles get to wish us a happy Channukah, taking pride in their cultural sensitivity and knowledge. Meanwhile, we get to celebrate our actual important holidays without them becoming shallow husks and victims of a brash, consumerist society.

            “Yesss.”- G-d

          • What about the Yom Kippur dwarfs that hand out caramel corn to good little Jews ? And the traditional Yom Kippur line dancing?

          • yeah, Spaceprophet–
            you haven’t lived until you’ve played “Passover Bear” (blue and white, natch) to the delight of all the goys and birls.

      • My dad (white, Christian) actually said to me just the other day: “Did you know that one of Disneyland’s busiest days of the year is CHRISTMAS? Why is it even open? Who on EARTH would go to Disneyland ON CHRISTMAS!?”

        And I was like, “Do I really need to point out how there a literally millions of people in this country that aren’t Christian?” And he was all: “Like who?”…

        • On that note, wi_ngo, actual very serious conversation with my Dad about 5 years ago:

          HIM: There should be prayer in school. There was when I was a kid.
          ME: Dad, you went to Catholic school.
          HIM: Public schools were no different. But I think today they should take other religions into account. So instead of an actual prayer, they could just do a Bible reading every morning.
          ME: Great, what about all the kids who aren’t Christian?
          HIM: They would do the Old Testament once a week for the Jewish kids.
          ME: Uh, what about all the kids who are Hindu and Buddhist? Should there be readings from their religions?
          HIM: Well now you’re just being silly.

        • My non denominational fundie Christian relatives LOVE Disney Christmas. I can’t really think of anything more White Christian Family friendly than a Disney Christmas parade.

          • Yeah, Disneyland really decks itself out with X-mas spirit, cheer, and decorations to the T for X-mas-time. It actually felt like THE most ChristmasTown place on earth all of the years my family spent X-mas Day at Disneyland every year growing up in Los Angeles. Even all of the Disney characters have special X-mas versions of the costumes they wear for that day.

            And my bi-cultural family loved it year after year…. until it started to become too crowded by the ’90s. But by then, us teenagers no longer wanted to hang out with our parents all day, and just wanted to go by ourselves.

            Cheers to remembering the Disney Christmas Parade!

    • As a former (thank god) checker at Target I can attest that nothing quite makes you feel the intended spirit of the season quite like a shopper responding to your corporate-mandated, yet smiley and good-natured greeting of “Happy Holidays” with a snide, matter-of-fact, nose-upturned response of “Merry Christmas.”

      • On the whole Happy Holidays thing …

        If someone ever got upset about it, I’d probably respond with:

        “Ok then, Merry Christmas and have a horrible New Year, since apparently having more than one holiday being happy is offensive to you.”

        • Someone told me that they say “Happy Holidays” at this time of year because of all the different celebrations taking place in December, to which I replied, “um, OK, but I bet there are just as many different religious holidays around the world in any given month. Why don’t we say ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Happy Easter’ or ‘Happy St. Patrick’s Day’? What is it about December?”

    • I’m an agnostic who was raised Muslim in Southern Cal. We spent X-mas Day at Disneyland every frickin’ year growing up. It was actually the LEAST crowded day of the year to go to Disneyland back then. (’70s and ’80s). It was awesome! I loved it. My whole family would have a blast and we always looked forward to our Disneyland X-mas Day adventure after opening up our X-mas gifts every year. (Yes, many American Muslims celebrate X-mas. Duh.)

      Strange to now see that the narrow-minded parents of a white-ass Christian dude I dated for THREE years seem to have totally “forgotten” that I specifically told them that it was my family tradition when I was growing up in Los Angeles to spend X-mas Day at Disneyland every year. FuKKK those prejudiced jerks!

      Good riddance that I never married into that provincial and racist family. Peace ya’ll!! :)

      • PS: But then again, I shoulda known better when my ex’s mother said that she thinks President Obama is the ANTI-CHRIST!

        Merry X-mas/Happy Holidays, Monsters! ox

      • Restaurants are also super easy to get into on Christmas Day evening.

        I’m Australian, but was in New York last Christmas and had dinner by myself that day. It was actually kind of fun sitting there with my one glass of wine and one bowl of soup at my table for one.

  3. Am I mistaken or is Tim Allen doing voice over work in about 5 different TV commercials right now?

  4. I don’t know, I got punched this year by a neighbor for not wassailing, so…

  5. Do all Christmas movies with Tim Allen require him to fall off a roof? I can see why he would be upset with Christmas

  6. Much like Paper Street Soap’s original post, I wasn’t sure when I would get an opportunity or the proper forum to post this.

    So I hope you enjoy it. If you don’t, you can just DEAL WITH IT!

    Thanks to Papes for an incredible picture that served as the inspiration and structure of this picture.

  7. There’s a giant house down the street from my parents house with a wreath on EVERY window, like 10 wreaths facing the street. So basically they can’t look out the window until Christmas is over. I think my point is clear.

  8. Blah blah Tim Allen is terrible, terrible Christmas movies are terrible, I STILL LOVE CHRISTMAS SO MUCH #enviousjewgum

    Also, Gabe, I can’t sign in with my username because the signin box is blocked by some ad and am forced to lower myself to Facebook signing in and it is a problem. Plz fix.

  9. WAIT, Wilson died?? almost 10 years ago?? If only my 13-year old self used the internet for something other than AIM :(

  10. Once again, I would like to nominate SYNECDOCHE NEW YORK for WMOAT.

    For the record, I love this movie. That said it is, as mutant Videogum would have said, a “hot debate” (so many thumbs, NEVER FORGET). That reason alone should qualify its candidacy. Also, ACTING! A nice reprieve for Gabe, no?

  11. You called him Luke once in that article, even though he was Luther the rest of the time.

    Also, John Grisham mostly writes courtroom dramas, right? If so, I OBJECT. To all of this.

  12. I have been watching some seriously terrible made-for-TV Christmas movies on the ion channel and Hallmark and what not lately. It’s amazing to me how many of these types of movies exist. And it’s amazing to me how many of them contain really insane otherwordly, paranormal events, but are portrayed as totally normal. There’s a thesis for a paper I’ll never get around to writing in there somewhere…

  13. Fixed that banner pic for anyone who is eating while reading this blog post:

  14. Is it wrong of me to be so much in love with that picture of Tim Allen all wet?

    Ok thats the grossest thing ive ever said.

  15. “Here’s a question: why is it raining in Chicago two weeks before Christmas? And if it is raining, why is there snow in the ground?”

    Actually, Gabe, I was asking this exact same thing on Saturday. And the answer is “so that the rain and snow can create slush that can half-freeze in the evening and make my walk to the train station treacherous.”

  16. Your Grisham “just because it’s successful doesn’t mean it’s good” theory doesn’t jibe with your “you don’t change the writing staff on the number 1 show on AMC” theory. TWO THEORIES THAT DON’T JIBE.

  17. I guess they learned nothing from Home Alone, which taught us that even if you’re going out of town for Christmas, you still put up decorations (on a timer) so that the robbers (or in this case, asshole neighbors) don’t know you’re gone. Geez!

  18. Love, love, love Jamie Lee Curtis. But her hair here is not as good as her Activia hair.

    I suppose her Activia hair is her regular hair.

    • I realized looking at these pictures that it sort of seems like they tried to make up Jamie Lee Curtis to resemble the actress who played Tim Allen’s wife on “Home Improvement”. But that hair does nothing for her.

  19. I am one of the very few people in my apartment complex without door decorations. No one has tried to shame me.


  20. Ok, I really don’t know why I posted that. In my defense, it is almost five, and I am sleepy, and SHUT UP DON’T YOU DARE JUDGE ME.

  21. i’ve been watching the first season of the OC (let he who is without nightmare garbage in their netflix queue cast the first stone) and it, along with this WMOAT post, have got me thinking about just how much film and television are predicated upon people doing shit that just absolutely, fundamentally, makes no sense. duh aficionado material, for sure, but i want to live in a world where that shit gets left on the cutting room floor. “nope. that would never happen. NEXT.”

    • Makes no sense, or makes the characters total cowards. Just tell the neighbors to fuck off! Why are you planning this elaborate lie and evasion scheme to look good to some asshole neighbor?

      Like 90% of sitcom and movie debacles (usually comedy) could be avoided with gratuitous use of the middle finger.

    • The OC -and- its current sister, Gossip Girl (no judgement, I love Gossip Girl) are definitely built on that principle. It reminds me of a quote though from Jason Alexander, talking about playing George. It went something like the first time he read some of the Seinfeld scripts he thought, “no human would get into this situation and if they did, they would never react this way.” So after thinking that he goes to Larry David, and his reply is “that exact situation happened to me and that’s exactly what I did!” I think my point is, maybe Hollywood is full of all these OC/Gossip Girl/Christmas with the Kranks neighbours versions of Larry David, getting into totally irrational situations and that’s why this stuff keeps showing up on our screens.

      Or they’re all just terrible at their jobs. EITHER/OR

  22. Dear Videogum stuff.

    Today at the gym…I happened to bump across…

    Bee Season.

    Hey, guess who is the protagonist?Richard fucking Gere (Amelia) and Juliet Binosh (Chocolat).
    It is a horrible movie. Trully horrible. And yes, it takes itself seriously, overly seriously as a matter of fact.
    I dont really think it is possible to review this movie but you could give it a shot.

    Since it worked the other time, I am enclosing a gif.

    Imagine if you will

    Well…its japan…I dont thing it is possible to make an analogy.

  23. Back when we were asked what terrible Christmas movies would be perfect for the WMOAT, I begged Gabe to pick Love Actually and Christmas with the Kranks. So thank you Gabe for granting my Videogum wish !

  24. “Hindman made his name in New York theater, appearing in “Dark of the Moon” off Broadway in 1970″

    Wait, what?

  25. “Tim Allen? Really? Up yours, Gabe!”

  26. Either I have food poisoning or Tim Allen’s crotch just made me vomit 27 times…

    Any Monster want to come make me some soup?

  27. They didn’t finish their dinner. And if they *were* finished, then they didn’t do the dishes. These people don’t deserve Christmas.

  28. I was thinking about how I nominated Stranger Than Fiction a bunch of time and still get downvotes for it (BE STRONG) but really, I want to nominate Irreversible. I mean, Stranger Than Fiction is still total goober b.s. and should be widely ridiculed, but I think it’s more interesting to nominate a movie that I think is really great and successful at what it sets out to do (rain barf). it also reminds me of the Funny Games writeup, insomuch as it’s a movie that I really thought was great but I absolutely hated watching and will never watch again. also, tons of people hate the movie so even if Gabe just thinks it’s bilge it will still be a great writeup full of oofs and yikes and one jailcell pleases. WIN WIN RIGHT? on a related note (#brutalrape) Dan Aykroyd’s face continues to astound and bewilder me. I need some spooky skull vodka stat.

  29. I’m more of a reader than a commenter but the other day my kitten walked on my remote and changed the channel. In the brief seconds between when this happened and when I picked up the remote to change the channel back, I witnessed approximately 4-5 seconds of a movie called “Country Strong” starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Based on what I saw during these seconds, I feel it is critical to nominate “Country Strong” as The Worst Movie Of All Time. Are we allowed to nominate movies before they’re even released? TOO BAD. Anyone who disagrees clearly has not seen any seconds, let alone 4-5 seconds, of the previews for “Country Strong.”

  30. If my neighbors showed up in front of my house festooned in Dickensian regalia speed singing Christmas carols they would get the business, and by the business I mean the fire extinguisher.

  31. I know there’s only one Nicolas Cage movie per round, but it’s time to do Knowing. What a rat turd of a movie.

  32. Funny story, it rained in Chicago this past Saturday. Which was exactly two weeks before Christmas. However, I can’t remember if there was snow on the ground that hadn’t melted yet.

  33. re: the fifth picture up there. When did Dan Ackroyd turn into Monk?

  34. I know this is completely hidden at the bottom of this thread and no one is going to read and/or respond to it, but its fun to pretend. Isn’t this move a family movie? Family movies are usually 99.9% terrible. Family movies with Tim Allen are 100% terrible. They have stupid jokes that make kids laugh and adults roll their eyes. Why is Gabe even wasting a post picking apart the different pieces of garbage that makes this movie a land fill. WMOAT started out as a great way to discuss horrible movies that were attempting to be something great and unique, but failed miserably. Humiliating the producers/actors/directors by pointing out their failure is what made the discussion FUN. Christmas with the Kranks set out to be exactly what it was….mindless trash. Pointing out its failure waters down WMOAT.

  35. The search is over. When I started reading VideoGum and joined this “Hunt” it was because I knew that someday this movie would eventually come up. IT is without a doubt “THE WORST MOVIE OF ALL TIME”

    I really don’t have to much to add. I just wanted to pat you on the back Gabe for your accumin and great presentation with videos and screenshots. It is perfection.

  36. I am going to print out this article over and over and use it to wrap all of my christmas presents. :)


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