Will There Ever Be A Christmas With The Kranks 2? Here's What We Know

One of the best reviews of any piece of media was Andy Klein's review of the 2004 film "Christmas with the Kranks," printed in the now-defunct CityBeat weekly. Because of the foibles of online archiving and the shuttering of many news outlets in 2004, CityBeat articles are no longer available. But in his review, Klein likened Joe Roth's anti-classic to the rise of fascism in Europe, holding the film's Dan Aykroyd character as leading a Nazi-like neighborhood charge against the people on their block — the leads, played by Jamie Lee Curtis and Tim Allen — who would dare, DARE, to buck the ultra-moneyed norms of Christian holiday conformity. It's one of the funniest reviews I have had the pleasure to read, and was very wise about how toothless Hollywood comedies tend to come with some very unsavory messages about conformity buried not so far under the surface. 

Christmas films though, however bad they may be, tend to become canonized and re-watched every holiday season as our vision becomes blurred by too much brandy and sentimentality. As such, some pretty darn terrible films — like, say, "Jingle All the Way" or "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" — have become canonized as classics. While "Christmas with the Kranks" was panned upon its release, and currently holds an inauspicious 5% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (making it the second worst-rated Christmas film on the site behind only 2013's "The Nutcracker in 3D"), it's not out of the realm that it would have been cherished by a certain age group at a certain time, only to be reconsidered as an important classic today. 

I mean, if it happened with "Space Jam," it can happen to anything.

Krank Harder

Will there be a "Christmas with the Kranks 2?" Short answer: No. Long answer: Nooooooooo. There have been no rumors or petitions to have another visit to the Kranks' house. 

"Christmas with the Kranks," based on the 2001 novel "Skipping Christmas" by John Grisham (yes, that John Grisham) tells the story of Luther and Nora Krank (Allen and Curtis) as their adult daughter leaves home to work for the Peace Corps in Peru. She will be absent for Christmas, and Nora and Luther realize that much of their traditions — over-decorating, competing in decoration competitions to please their unofficial homeowners association, overspending on gifts — were all done for her benefit. Rather than put the logistical and financial pressure on themselves (Luther figures they spend at least $6000 every year on Christmas stuff), they elect to skip Christmas for the year, eschewing decorations and celebration in favor of a nice vacation abroad. 

But wouldn't you know it, pressure arrives from without in the form of Vic Frohmeyer (Aykroyd) who accuses them of being Grinches who are ruining, RUINING I say, the entire neighborhood's vibe with their lack of decoration. What follows is not a tale of a neighborhood allowing its members to follow their bliss and celebrate in their own way, but a madcap farce forcing the Kranks to come back around. Which they eventually do when they learn their daughter is returning home for Christmas after all. 

The film, it seems, wants audiences to be ideologically on Frohmeyer's side, rooting for him to turn the Kranks into Christmas-lovers once again. He doesn't ask if the Kranks might be Jehovah's Witnesses now, or Jewish, or even atheists. Christmas must be celebrated in the neighborhood style. "Christmas with the Kranks" would make a good double feature with Michael Haneke's 2009 proto-fascist yarn "The White Ribbon."

The Strange Caprices of Streaming

Thanks to the caprices of streaming, however, it's harder and harder to predict what will gain a cult following. In the home video era, many films didn't gain an audience until years after their release, and some gained traction due to insistent over-rotation on cable TV. In the streaming era, classic films and TV shows can suddenly appear in front of modern audiences where younger audiences, perhaps not previously familiar with the shows, may now run marathons. Hence why Gen-Z kids are exploring "Friends" for the first time, or why you occasionally hear news stories about how "The Incredibles 2" is now topping ratings charts merely because it's about to leave Netflix and head over to Disney+. 

"Christmas with the Kranks" was included on FreeForm's 25 Days of Christmas Marathon in 2020, so its reputation may currently be in the process of being salvaged. All it will take is more and more appearances of the film on various streaming services, and perhaps — distantly — it will gain a toehold. "Christmas with the Kranks" is currently available to rent on various streaming services, and is only available for free for those who subscribe to Starz and Hoopla. Not the ideal position to gain a cult via ubiquity. But maybe "Christmas with the Kranks: The Desolation of Smaug" awaits in the future nonetheless. 

Until then, it lurks.