Calling a film the worst of all time may seem like a strong statement in a world where Uwe Boll is still allowed to use a camera, but in this case it's not strong enough. Christmas with the Kranks isn't just stupid, it isn't just morally repugnant, it isn't just sloppy and poorly made. It's all three of those things mixed together with something else, a certain essence of noxiousness that the filmmakers must have worked very hard to capture. Their work paid off.
This is a movie that casts Cheech Marin as a police officer with no sense of irony, and then has his partner hold up a sign that says "N. Reeky" for a man named Enrique. Now it doesn't take a genius to know the name Enrique (thanks Mr. Iglesias) but what kind of Mexican doesn't know a common Spanish name? Are we supposed to believe these cops are borderline retarded? It's a moment the movie throws at us purely because that's what the script says is supposed to happen and it offended me more than any racist character spouting hateful rhetoric has. It was like the director was looking me square in the eye and saying "You're an idiot. You're a fucking moron. You're a piece of shit."
The movie has dozens of other flaws as well. From the complete lack of motivations for almost everything the characters do to the fact that it turns Jamie Lee Curtis into a bad version of Edith Bunker, all shrill screams and bizzaro phobias. At one point a big deal is made about obtaining a honey-glazed ham. Later this ham is served at the big party. Later still Tim Allen's character gives away the same ham, unopened and somehow made whole after being devoured, as a gift.
In the end the biggest flaw in the movie is that, in the end, it stands as a ringing endorsement of capitulation and consumerism. The Kranks give in to their horrible neighbors and find happiness by living under the dark, crushing, hand of others demands and expectations. It's like someone made a version of "Good Night and Good Luck" where Murrow eventually decides that McCarthyism isn't so bad and the Reds are probably guilty anyway. Or a version of Star Wars where Luke decides to join his pops in universal domination.
Why did I watch the film then? Sometimes it's worthwhile to plumb the depths of true depravity so you can have a better understanding of virtue. That was my thinking. In the end Christmas with the Kranks fails even in this. It's Mein Kampf at a pre-school level. The only thing redeeming about it is that it ends, and not nearly soon enough.