US Release Date: 11-22-2006
Directed by: John Whitesell
- Danny DeVito, as
- Buddy Hall
- Matthew Broderick, as
- Steve Finch
- Kristin Davis, as
- Kelly Finch
- Kristin Chenoweth, as
- Tia Hall
- Alia Shawkat, as
- Madison Finch
- Lochlyn Munro, as
- Kal Penn as
Danny DeVito in 20th Century Fox's Deck the Halls.
The Plot: A car salesman, Buddy, and his family move across the street from a an uptight optometrist, Steve, and his wife and kids. Buddy is very insecure, for reasons never explained other than he looks like Danny DeVito. To compensate for that insecurity, he decides, "I want my house to be seen from space." So he fills his house and yard with Christmas lights. This annoys Steve and comedy is supposed to then ensue. None does.
Let me begin my critique by stating that I live in a state that gets snow, so this movie's special effects snow is about as obviously fake as it comes. People walk around without ever acting as if they are actually in cold weather. Of course the real give away is that no one's breath is visible in the cold air.
None of the attempts at jokes work. The movie opens with Steve with a patient. She says that glasses will make her look old. Steve then gets a pair of glasses out and hands them to her and the audience then sees that she is in fact old. Haha. She then puts the glasses on and says, "I look hot." Haha. The writing stinks worse than an unkempt manger. Although the theater was hardly packed no one laughed at all. So desperate to find a laugh the writer threw in a pink underwear wearing sheriff.
For a Christmas movie to work it has to contain one important element. The audience must me able to relate and feel an affinity for the characters. See A Christmas Story, It's A Wonderful Life, Jingle All the Way and even The Grinch for such an effect. Here we have Buddy who is married to a hot wife and has two hot daughters. They move into a very expensive house, yet he is unemployed. He and his wife discuss their debt yet he spends thousands of dollars on lights. He steals, vandalizes, disturbs the peace and forges his neighbor's signature. Why exactly should I root or care about this person?
Steve's only personality trait is that he is anal. As Chevy Case proved in Christmas Vacation, being anal can work to funny affect. Broderick is just plain boring. Was Ferris Bueller a fluke? Does this guy have any charm left in him? He put me to sleep last year in The Producers and this year he once again proves to be the best cure for insomnia.
Deck the Halls almost has a moment, but the director didn't know what to do with it. Steve's wife is trying to make a point about the holidays by asking Steve about his best Christmas memory. Steve says that it was when he was a kid and he and his dad ate French fries and chocolate milk on the kitchen floor. Why did they do that? Why is that his best memory? The movie never brings it up again. The point Steve's wife is trying to make is that the best memories are spontaneous ones. There are none to be found in this movie.
Kristin Chenoweth and Danny DeVito in Deck the Halls.
I’m not sure what possessed me to watch a Christmas movie on Good Friday but that’s exactly what I did this morning. I’m actually glad I didn’t watch this crap in December as Deck the Halls has to be the worst Christmas movie ever. I agree with you Eric, there is nothing remotely funny about this horribly scripted mess.
Just how desperate does this movie get for a laugh? I’ll tell you. It has a scene where DeVito and Broderick ogle three hot chicks performing a dance dressed in skimpy Santa outfits. At first they can only see the girls from behind as they gyrate on stage. When they turn around the punch line is… the three girls are their teenage daughters. Merry Christmas!
The talents of Kristin Chenoweth and Kristin Davis are both completely wasted. Chenoweth sings “Oh Holy Night” at the end in a scene that is supposed to be heartwarming but is instead nausea inducing.
I kept waiting for some character development, hell I’m still waiting. I now understand why this movie was so quickly forgotten. It is all shiny packaging and tinsel with no heart or soul.
Mathew Broderick, Kristin Davis, Kristin Chenoweth and Danny DeVito in Deck the Halls.
I decided to watch this movie because so many different people have put it on their worst Christmas movies of all time list. A movie this bad, I had to see. I have to say that when it started, I was a little disappointed. Sure, the humor was weak and obvious, but it wasn't horrendous, just mildly embarrassing. Turns out, I just had to give it a little time to get going. Once it warms up it gets bad fast.
Eric, I think you hinted at a big part of the plot's problem and that is, who are you supposed to empathize with? It's as if neither Broderick or DeVito wanted to be the bad guy. It should either have been the stand-up, decent guy trying to give his family a traditional Christmas but is thwarted by the obnoxious neighbor (as the story starts to be). Or it should have been the insecure guy trying to bring meaning to his life by building the world's biggest light display, but is thwarted by his obnoxious neighbor (which the story turns into half-way through). Instead it tries to do both making Broderick and DeVito the hero and the villain alternately.
Of course the other major problem is the one you mention Patrick and that is that it is a horrible script, which somehow took three people to write. The writing is sloppy and the jokes aren't funny. I knew it was going to be bad when Broderick explains to his wife about how he wants his kids to have the traditional Christmas that he never had. Since their oldest child is 16, they've obviously been together for a great many Christmases, but he's just now telling her that? Obviously he's telling the audience and not his wife. Exposition from a character that is intended for the audience is always a sign of a weak script. The other sign is when joke after joke after joke simply fails to generate a laugh.
Yet another annoying thing about the story is the way that everyone keeps taking Buddy's side. Why is no one else annoyed that his house is lit up so bright and his music is played so loudly until 4am? Why does everyone act as though Steve isn't justified in being annoyed? We're told several times that Buddy is a great salesman, but we never actually get to hear him in action. Steve almost dies and his house is broken into and he's almost arrested for stealing a tree and a car, but somehow no one else in town notices how annoying Buddy can be.
So is this the very worst Christmas movie of all time? It's definitely in the running. It's certainly one of those movies where you have to wonder just how in the hell it ever got made. I mean, who read this script and thought it was funny? It had to be a tax dodge, right?
Photos © Copyright 20th Century Fox (2006)