Live by Night
The key question behind Live by Night isn’t so much “Why did they bother?” as “What went wrong?”
'Christmas With the Kranks" doesn't have anything wrong with it that couldn't be fixed by adding Ebenezer Scrooge and Bad Santa to the cast. It's a holiday movie of stunning awfulness that gets even worse when it turns gooey at the end. And what is it finally so happy about? Why, that the Kranks' neighbors succeed in enforcing their lockstep conformity upon them. They form a herd mentality, without the mentality.
The movie is not funny, ever, in any way, beginning to end. It's a colossal miscalculation. Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis star as Luther and Nora Krank, who live in a Chicago suburb with their daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo). Julie is going to Peru in the Peace Corps, so this will be their first Christmas without her, and Luther suggests that instead of spending $6,000 on Christmas, he and Nora spend $3,000 on a Caribbean cruise.
Sounds reasonable to me. But perhaps you're wondering how a couple with one child and no other apparent relatives on either side of the family spends $6,000 on Christmas. The answer is, they decorate. Their street coordinates a Christmas display every year in which neighbors compete to hang the most lights from their eaves and clutter the lawn with secular symbolism. Everyone has Frosty on the rooftop.
When the word gets around that the Kranks are taking a year off, the neighborhood posse gets alarmed. Their leader is Vic Frohmeyer (Dan Aykroyd), who leads a delegation to berate them. Before long, pickets are on the front lawn, chanting "Free Frosty!" and the local paper writes a story about "The only house on the block that's keeping Frosty in the basement."