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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.7%
Worth A Look: 2.7%
Average: 5.41%
Pretty Bad: 18.92%
Total Crap70.27%

4 reviews, 13 user ratings

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Deck the Halls
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by Doug Bentin

"Next year, Chevy Chase as Grandpa Griswold"
2 stars

Yes, it contains a couple of laughs, but hell, so does the 9/11 Report and no one is turning that into a Christmas comedy. Yet.

It was 45 years ago when Mad cover artist Don Martin summed up what had become the spirit of Christmas. The cover of the Jan. 1962 issue pictured two guys dressed in identical Santa Claus costumes on the verge of coming to blows over which of them was going to remain on a particular street corner to raise money for the charity each represented. They are snarling like rabid reindeer, each pointing straight down using body language to indicate where the other should go. In front of them are signs reading “Peace on Earth” and “Good Will Toward Men.”

The cynical irony of that cover art, through satire, told us more about the meaning of Christmas than any number of burnt out light bulbs like “Deck the Halls.” Actors who used to be Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick have delivered scathing performances in past bitter satires, and I wonder if they were under the impression that this flick was going to be as heart-breakingly funny and honest as that old Don Martin painting. Or think of DeVito’s “The War of the Roses.” What that movie did for Hollywood romances, this one could do for syrupy “holiday classics.” No such luck.

DeVito is Buddy Hall, new guy in town. He’s a salesman, this time working for a car dealership. He has a knock-out wife, Tia (Kristin Chenoweth, asked to do little more than extend her performance in “R.V.”) and two hot daughters (Sabrina and Kelly Aldridge), but he’s not happy because he has never done anything great. Hey, welcome to the club, pal. You’re member number four and three-quarters billion, give or take.

He decides to spend more money than he could possibly have to put up lights on his house that can be seen from space. Sure, as if anyone were looking. This puts him at odds with his new neighbor across the street, Steve Finch (Broderick, asked to do little more than extend his performance in “The Producers), a tight-assed WASP who fancies himself to be the town’s arbiter of good taste, Christmas-wise.

It’s a set-up Laurel and Hardy would have squeezed laughs out of until you were weak and rolling on the floor, but the classic comic duo would have carried the situation through to its logical conclusion—massive destruction, humiliation, and a hidden lesson to the audience about the stupidity of never knowing when to say “When.”

But here, director John Whitesell and writers Matt Corman, Chris Ord, and Don Rhymer lead us to the eve of destruction and then, just before giving us the lesson of Christmas good and hard by showing us what happens when humans don’t get the point, they pull out and palm off on us the most tired gosh-I-guess-we-should-all-just-be-friends conclusion.

Kristin Chenoweth and Kristin Davis are wasted as doting wives who have to threaten to withhold their own brand of peace on earth, if you catch my drift, in order to tame their mates. If Chenoweth doesn’t get better roles than this, “The Pink Panther” and “R.V.” soon, she better head back to Broadway or Broken Bow.
The script is lazy, going for the most obvious gag every time. Come on now—fireworks going off by accident in the house? A runaway sleigh? Is this a new comedy or a “Best of Lucille Ball” TV special?

When did we, as movie-goers, become so gutless that we take this kind of crap and then add, “Please, sir, may I have some more”? Sure, even Scrooge underwent a character do-over, but not before he got the bejeebers scared out of him.

“Deck the Halls” is a milquetoast waste of time. It is the perfect third installation of the “Holiday Season Anything is Better Than This Trilogy,” the first parts of which were “Christmas With the Kranks” and “Surviving Christmas.”

I know a guy who likes to twist movie titles into something silly and he’s already referring to this one as “Suck the Balls.” If only.

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originally posted: 12/06/06 01:41:45
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User Comments

11/02/09 art A POOR EXCUSE FOR A MOTION PITCURE! 1 stars
5/20/09 art THIS MOVIE STINK"S! 1 stars
11/27/08 little Red Such a waste of 9 bucks 1 stars
8/28/08 Shaun Wallner Devito is so Funny!! 5 stars
11/25/07 mike started out lame and only got more lame. just an annoying movie 1 stars
2/05/07 William Goss Christmas lights must make for swell nooses... 1 stars
1/15/07 Millie Maelstrom Could haters' REAL objection be that it DARES play songs referring to birth of Christ?!? 3 stars
1/13/07 Britney Spears into pruning hooks Maybe not a classic, but not nearly so bad as everyone seems to think. 3 stars
12/12/06 Tiffany It was ok. 4 stars
12/02/06 shagtex save your money or if in theatre sneak to another screen 1 stars
12/01/06 James Black CSE should be called "IT Sucks Balls" Devito is a perfect height to do the job. IT SUCKS !!!!!! 1 stars
11/25/06 Jeff Anderson Absolute crap, unfunny & depressing, but at least DeVito's having a great time! XMAS JUNK!! 1 stars
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  22-Nov-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 06-Nov-2007



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