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Deck the Halls

Ah, another lifeless comedy for the holidays. It's just super to be reminded how mean-spirited and grotesquely commercial the Christmas season can be, isn't it?


Talk about a thin plot. Steve (Matthew Broderick) is a suburban dad who leads a well-organized life with his wife (Kristin Davis) and two kids. As a Christmas enthusiast, he is also especially particular how the season is planned out. But his orderly world is about to come crashing down when new neighbor Buddy (Danny DeVito) moves in across the street. Buddy is a bit of a wanderer, shuffling his cute family—wife (Kristin Chenoweth) and twin teenage girls—around a lot, but he thinks he may have found his purpose when he decides to turn his house into the biggest holiday light display in the world, so it can be visible from outer space—and bug the living bejeezus out of Steve in the process. As Buddy's home explodes with festive lights of incredible design, increasing complexity, and exponentially growing wattage, Steve becomes a man on a mission. At any cost, he will thwart Buddy--or top him. Where's It's a Wonderful Life when you need it?


Broderick has just got to stop playing these nebbishes. I mean, the part of the gutless wonder has worked well for him in films such as Election, as well as on stage in The Producers--but enough is enough already. Branch out, Matt—either that or revisit some of that Ferris Bueller cool. DeVito doesn't fare much better, once again playing another obnoxious loudmouth, even when he's trying to be sincere. These two probably just needed some extra holiday spending money. Davis and Chenoweth fill in appropriately as the cutesy and oh-so-wise wives. And while you don't expect much from Davis, who continues to play the same preppy role she did in Sex and the City, minus the sex, Chenoweth seems destined for greater things, if given the chance. She's a Broadway star, for heaven's sakes, with an excellent set of pipes, but has relegated herself to insipid comedies (i.e. RV). Maybe they'll make Wicked into a movie musical and she can reprise her role as Glinda, the good witch, and really show us something.


Deck the Halls follows in the same vein as some other recent stellar holiday movies, such as Surviving Christmas and Christmas with the Kranks. Oy. All these movies eventually end up trying to illuminate that certain Christmas spirit—you know, family togetherness and whatnot—but you first have to wade through the anemic comedy, full of one calamity after another. In Halls' case, director John Whitesell (Big Momma's House 2) doesn't really have the pedigree to elevate the proceedings. Let's see, Steve takes an impromptu runaway sleigh ride through the town and ends up dumped into a frozen lake. Or in trying to cut Buddy's power, he ends up face-first in camel dung in Buddy's true-to-life manger scene. Hilarious. Deck the Halls is yet another example of how a feel-good Christmas movie is just impossible to make these days.

Bottom Line rated this film 1 star.