Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Not that great.
Christmas films are a lot of things, but try as I may, I hardly ever find any of them forgettable. Horrible, sure, but forgettable is more rare than anything. When going through a list of Christmas films, I came across Deck the Halls, which is a film I’ve actually seen before, and I thought to myself – wait…I’ve seen this before…but why can’t I think of what it’s about…other than Christmas lights? Because the movie is remarkably dull. I don’t have the best memory in the world, given, but if I was prompted to, I could list off dozens of Christmas movies just from the top of my head, and probably the main plot for all of them as well. Somehow, Deck the Halls fell sharply off of my radar.
Steve Finch (Matthew Broderick) is an optometrist who is famous around his hometown for being the “Christmas guy”. When Buddy (Danny DeVito), his new neighbor, moves into the house across the street, his depressing moods of always feeling invisible gets the best of him, so he decides to put so many Christmas lights on his house that it will be seen from space. This plan goes on long hours of the night, keeping Steve up for most of the night. Sooner than you know it, they are rivals and Steve will stop at nothing to end Buddy’s holiday cheer.
IN A NUTSHELL: Danny DeVito keeps putting Christmas lights on his house while Matthew Broderick has a temper tantrum for 90 minutes.
Well. Ever have that feeling of really wanting to like a movie because of the comedic actors? I’m not even lying when I tell you I sat stiff for the full 93 minutes and tried desperately to make myself laugh. The problem is that nothing in the film is remotely funny, and that’s mostly because of the worst plot foundation. Let’s break that down piece by piece. Danny DeVito’s character is always depressed because he can’t ever find anything that makes him happy, and because everyone is always making fun of him and calling him a screw-up. That’s something we see often in film, but they didn’t approach that issue the right way. After being watered down by humor and characters, the key message should ultimately be about finding yourself through self-actualization…not through popularity and being the center of attention…I mean seriously…what is that?
Then, he finds the way to address this issue is through his daughters’ favorite website “My Earth”. What is this site? Ultimately, it’s supposed to be something like Google Earth, where you can zoom in and see people’s houses…but in this film, apparently it’s a live stream…so in essence, My Earth is spy satellites that literally litter outer space. The reason Google Earth works is because they are images, if there is a live stream all around the world constantly. That means there are millions of satellites broadcasting that signal. Either that, or the website lets the user control the satellite to go wherever they want, but because it’s a popular social website with multiple users constantly using it, I’d stick to the former suspicion…which is just bad writing.
Matthew Broderick’s character then gets upset at Buddy for doing this. If you’re waiting for story progression, you can stop now, because the story is stuck at a standstill. It is literally these two bickering until the end of the film, and the one climax the story has to make it have a solid ending was so weak it was ridiculous. Also, the characters aren’t all that charming and loveable. Matthew Broderick, who plays the sane man gone crazy, has virtually no character development. Apparently, he was the former “Christmas guy”, yet the film offers no explanation as to how or what he did in the past, since he doesn’t put up a single Christmas decoration at his own house, let alone the Christmas festival in town…which is completely going on without him anyway….
The film is forgettable because it offers nothing memorable…pretty simple. Danny DeVito was probably the best part of the movie with his kooky character, but not by much. You don’t really care that he’s “depressed” because you’re too busy sighing with boredom. This isn’t a holiday movie to put on your Christmas list this year, guys. You’d be better off avoiding it, even if it’s randomly on TV.
As much as I love to give this film hate, it still had a good level of Christmas cheer throughout the film. There is never a doubt that this is about Christmas, and other Christmas films can have you doubting that. Also, Danny DeVito as the kooky neighbor was interesting at least.
Everything else. Everything.
Steve Finch: Who moves in the middle of the night, a meth lab?