November 30, 2006

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Deck the Halls (PG)
Danny DeVito, Matthew Broderick, Kristin Davis and Kristin Chenowith display the kind of blind obedience to an ill-fated project that you usually only see in cult members with Deck the Halls, the obligatory milk-every-last-dime-out-of-Christmas movie for 2006.

You know, I can appreciate a tastefully ornamented tree glowing through the window of a snow-brushed New England home. I don't mind the occasional piece of one of the less overplayed parts of The Nutcracker. I dig a good Christmas cookie, a nice cup of cocoa full of red and green mini marshmallows. But there is a blue-light-special-on-plastic-nativity-sets-at-K-Mart quality to this kind of syrup-oozing holiday fare that all but makes my eyes bleed.

Is it Scroogey to not want to see Broderick engage in Home Alone-ish antics to attempt to prevent neighbor DeVito from having his house so heavily Christmas-lit that it's visible from space? Is it Grinchesque to wince through the scene where three teenage girls tartily dance to "Santa Baby" while DeVito and Broderick wolf call at them, only to realize the girls are their own daughters? Is it Mr. Potter-ish to squirm and moan throughout the saccharine denouement wherein the whole town gathers to sing "O Holy Night," led by Chenowith?

Well then bah humbug to all the Whos down in Bedford Falls, I'll happy drink scotch and complain about the government with the rest of the crotchety anti-holiday types. This movie sucked.

Dentist Steve (Matthew) likes him some Christmas — some orderly, understated Christmas full of ponderous traditions. His new neighbor car salesman Buddy (DeVito) wants to do something big with his life (use the time trapped in the movie to think up your own short jokes) and decides to encrust his house with lights in hopes of the glow being visible from space. Steve-on-Buddy struggle ensues as each tries to thwart the other's moronic plans. Steve's wife Kelly (Davis) and Buddy's wife Tia (Chenowith) think their husbands are stupid but are financially chained to them (Kelly by affluence; Tia by debt) and so let them act like jackasses until the plot requires them to put their feet down.

I'm sure, if forced to view this multiple times, I could tease out some gender commentaries in the various husband/wife relationships and some social commentaries in the way the less affluent Buddy's lame dream is ridiculed while the more well-to-do Steven's lame dream is treated with greater sympathy. But I don't want to view this multiple times and in a Deck the Halls-or-death situation I'm not sure which I'd choose, though I know which way I'm leaning — death can be immediate but Deck the Halls will always last an hour and a half. D

Rated PG for Please God Nooooo — OK, for some crude and suggestive humor and language. Directed by John Whitesell and written by Matt Corman, Chris Ord and Don Rhymer, Deck the Halls is an hour and 33 minutes way long and is disturbed by 20th Century Fox in wide release.

— Amy Diaz