Deck the Halls

Christmas is such a happy time of year.  Why must filmmakers keep releasing junk into theaters?  Christmas with the Kranks, and The Santa Clause 3 are recent examples of muck crowding screens.  Deck the Halls is yet another one.  The formula for Christmas movies is as follows - they need to end on a happy note.  Typically, this means somebody gets a new understanding of the holiday.  In order for this to happen, said person much act like a jerk/scrooge for most of the movie.  It is always obvious where these movies are going, and it is rarely enjoyable.

Deck the Halls also asks a number of other questions.  After a successful series like Sex & the City, why does Kristin Davis do nothing but play bland mommy roles (The Shaggy Dog, The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl)?  Is Kristin Chenoweth (Running with Scissors, Stranger than Fiction), with roles like the one she did in RV following Davis by playing neighbor mommy in movies?  Did Davis find it weird to play the wife to the real life husband (Matthew Broderick, The Producers, Strangers with Candy) of Sarah Jessica Parker, her Sex & the City co-star?  And most of all, why would actors like these, and Danny DeVito (The OH in Ohio, Be Cool) ever think doing something like this was a good idea?

But enough with the complaining - somewhere underneath the tinsel and snow, Don Rhymer (Big Momma's House 2, The Honeymooners) Matt Corman, and Chris Ord created a story.  And a dull one at that.  Steve Finch (Broderick) claims Christmas as his own.  He never had any traditions growing up, so he wants to instill some in his family now.  This means that every day before Christmas, they do specific things.  They always take Christmas pictures in front of the fireplace with matching sweaters.  They have their next five years of trees growing next to each other.  In other words, Finch follows a rigid regimen that allows for no fun or spontaneity.  When Buddy Hall (DeVito) moves in across the street, all hell breaks loose.  Hall wants nothing more than for his house to be seen from space.  Unlike the stuffy Finch, he is annoyingly gregarious, and the two instantly dislike each other.

Hall decides that his two goals - annoying Finch and lighting his house - go hand in hand.  His house becomes a grotesque shrine to Christmas, with LED lights, animatronics, and actual animals.  The more he adds to his house, the more annoyed Finch gets.  They fight like little children, much to the amusement/horror of their respective families.  Anybody can see what will eventually happen, and director John Whitesell (Big Momma's House 2, Malibu's Most Wanted) sticks as rigidly to formula as Broderick's Finch does.  There are no laughs as Broderick declares war on Hall and things escalate to ridiculous proportions. Broderick is muffled playing a stuffy old fuddy duddy. DeVito looks like he's having fun. Too bad the audience isn't.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 33 minutes, Rated PG for some crude and suggestive humor, and for language.

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