As Danny DeVito throws the switch to fire up his exuberant home Christmas display, an internet video of another Christmas light extravaganza set to music comes to mind and the inspiration for Deck the Halls comes to light. In 2005, Carson Williams’, a Mason, Ohio electrical engineer, sequenced his Christmas lights with a Trans-Siberian Orchestra song, and it became so popular that it was featured in a Miller Lite beer commercial. It doesn't take a critic to tell you that a film based on the spectacle of decorating one's house with a ridiculous amount of light will probably suck, but the pic doesn't even attempt to capture the spirit of the holiday season. Instead, it puts the "ba-humbug" back into Christmas movie viewing.
Much like those flashing holiday lights, Deck the Halls’ plot and holiday message is superficial and pointless. Matthew Broderick plays an uptight, small town Christmas guy whose turf is invaded by his new neighbor, DeVito. DeVito is trying to find something in life that he loves more than his neglected family, and he finds that “something” in stringing up Christmas lights and being a pain in Broderick’s ass. Both Broderick and DeVito shove their families aside to prove who the better man is in a 60-minute pissing contest featuring bathroom-humor and poorly-executed physical comedy.
Story aside, the film doesn’t do an adequate job of capturing the spirit of the holiday season, let alone manage laughs. There are the standard Christmas carols and a pallet of red and green, but this lifeless film has no heart. After a lot of audience suffering, Broderick and DeVito finally beat each other into submission and realize that family is the most important part of the holidays. Just when you think the superficiality is over, the entire population of the town pulls out their cell phones when DeVito’s lights fail. All the film is missing is the “raising the bar” narration before credits roll.
Deck the Halls is a everything wrong with filmmaking. It’s a complete cash-in on a holiday season that promotes family togetherness. After the smash hit Home Alone in the early 1990s, every year sees a new slapstick conflict for the holidays. Promising a slice of holiday cheer, Deck the Halls trades caricatures for characters and physical "comedy" for plot.
If you’re looking for a fun-filled family holiday film, look elsewhere. This is the type of holiday Home Alone offspring that cinema could do without. So pack the kids in the car, crank the Christmas carols, skip the theater, and take a drive around your own neighborhood to check out the holiday light displays. Because paying $40 for the tickets, $20 for the popcorn and soda to watch a shitty movie while the twelve year-old behind you kicks your seat after every fart joke is hardly an enjoyable way to deck the halls and ring in the New Year.