You know how every so often you’ll be surfing Netflix and you just can’t decide what to watch? And after spending nearly 15 minutes looking through dozens of movies, you finally decide: “F**k it”, and click on the first available movie, hoping that it might be at least decent.
Well that’s how I ended up watching this decade old Christmas movie in the middle of July!
Steve Finch (Matthew Broderick) is a c
ocaine Christmas addict. As it’s the one time of the year he truly looks forward to, he always makes sure to pull out all the stops. While his kids (Alia Shawkat and Dylan Blue) are more or less over Christmas, Steve’s wife, Kelly (Kristin Davis), has learned to tolerate his obsession.
But this year, a new obstacle threatens to tear Steve’s world apart. Buddy Hall (Danny Devito), a loser car salesman, moves in next door with his wife Tia (Kristin Chenoweth) and their twin daughters (Sabrina and Kelly Aldridge.)
Being introduced to MyEarth (a carbon copy of Google Earth); Buddy learns his house cannot be seen from space. Apparently said information is the instigator of a sudden mid-life crisis, as he decides that the solution is to cover his house in Christmas lights (as you do.)
Already used to being known as “the Christmas guy,” Steve is not happy at this turn of events, and the two men are soon locked in
mortal moronic combat in an attempt to prove who’s the most christmassy.
[SPOILERS AHEAD – Not that anyone should really care.)
What’s the opposite of a Christmas classic? Because whatever it is, Deck the Halls might legitimately be the number one contender.
Directed by John Whitesell and written by Matt Corman, Chris Ord and Don Rhymer, this 90 minute slog tries to present itself as a lighthearted family film. But, unless your family is a sadistic version of the Adams family, it’s hard to overlook the fact that the two lead characters are utter, utter bastards for almost the entire runtime.
Broderick’s character is lucky enough to come across as possessing a minuscule of normality, but Devito’s character is without a doubt certifiably insane. In no particular order, he does the following:
- Steals electricity from his neighbour’s property
- Steals the town Christmas tree and tries to frame his neighbour for the theft.
- Pretends to give his neighbour a free car, but later reveals that he forged the signature and now his neighbour is on the line for thousands of dollars.
- And he sells his wife’s possessions with no thought to their sentimental value.
In addition, for a family film there is an odd amount of underage female sexualisation. (To be fair, ANY amount of underage sexualisation is pretty bad.) Whilst said references are clearly meant to be played for laughs, having three 15 year old girls being hollered at by their own dads is still just plain weird.
The adult women aren’t treated much better, with both Kristins forced into the unoriginal roles of supportive, yet put down upon wives. Though they at least have the good fortune not to be forced to portray their characters as raging maniacs.
As the film moves into its third act, you would expect the traditional feel good ending, especially given that it’s a Christmas movie. But given what has happened before, the fact that any character is even speaking to each another feels like a borderline miracle in itself.
My expectations were already immeasurably low before seeing Deck the Halls.
Those expectation were not met.