Krazy House: 1990s sitcom spoof is startlingly unfunny

Alicia Silverstone and Nick Frost star in a pratfall-filled satire about a feckless family man that’s less deconstructed than it is chauvinistic.

Nick Frost and Alicia Silverstone as Bernie and Eva in Krazy House (2024)
  • Reviewed from the 2024 Sundance Film Festival

Bernie Christian (Nick Frost) feels emasculated by his more capable, sex-averse lawyer wife Eva (Alicia Silverstone) who acts as the breadwinner for the family while he is left at home to look after teen children Sarah (Gaite Jansen) and Adam (Walt Klink). Bernie is also an incompetent, annoying fool, living up to his surname by constantly proselytising Christian virtues, while bumbling about in brush-based shoes which he has invented to keep his house’s floors spick and span, but which in fact repeatedly trip him up, leading to one disastrous pratfall after another.

Those shoes – and Bernie’s dogged refusal to remove them – emblematise the tension at Bernie’s heart (and sole). For he is all at once homemaker and homewrecker, a bland, clean-living do-gooder, and a ticking time bomb. Fittingly, his oft-repeated, self-descriptive catchphrase is “Oh gosh, what a mess” and because Krazy House presents itself as a 1990s sitcom being filmed before a live audience, that catchphrase is echoed back by a chorus of viewers in the television studio, responding to and revelling in the chaos and destruction that Bernie never stops creating around himself.

Painstakingly styled as a bad TV show, writer/directors’ Steffen Haars and Flip van der Kuil’s fifth feature (their first in the English language) is not looking back at some better past with rose-tinted glasses, but rather offers nostalgia in negative, with its hero modelled on that most irritating of neighbourly Christians, The Simpsons’ Ned Flanders, and its take on the sitcom form gradually becoming as postmodern as Casper Kelly’s short film Too Many Cooks (2014). For the film is no less deconstructive than its chauvinistic, deliberately unfunny comedy is unreconstructed, and soon the very walls and foundations of the Christian household are being literally torn apart by Russian repairman Piotr (Jan Bijvoet) and his sons Dmitri (Chris Peters) and (Matti Stooker), who have infiltrated the home with their own hidden agenda and who, for all their otherness, are driven by similar family values.

The ensuing clash of cultures introduces profanities, hard drugs, homosexuality, teen pregnancy and hyper-aggression to this ordinary-seeming domestic address, until shootouts escalate to even mowing down the audience beyond the set, even as all-American Bernie terminates his long-term faith in Jesus (Kevin Connolly) and merges into Frost’s gun-toting lunatic from Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz (2007), right down to the paradoxical return of an English accent. This is the American dream – and the nuclear family – bloodily exploded. For here, ultimately, all that patriarchy has is ultraviolence.