Deck the Halls

This movie is as bad as I assumed it was for the last 15 years.

I recently reviewed the Harold and Kumar Christmas film, and they make for an interesting juxtaposition. They’ve both got the high-ish production values of a mainstream Hollywood Christmas comedy. The music. The practical effects. The affordable amount of recognizable faces. And yet where Harold and Kumar succeeds, this film fails. It has characters, but nothing they do is motivated by believable human logic. While this film is, by contrast, less zany than Harold and Kumar, it manages to be less believable.

Matthew Broderick plays a guy who is a pretty big wheel down at the Christmas factory in his small, idyllic town. Danny DeVito plays a guy who moves in across the street, and who has never done anything meaningful, or committed to anything he set out to do, and who decides for reasons that he is going to create the grandest home Christmas lighting of all time. It will be visible from space, and this will satisfy his ego.

Matthew Broderick’s character doesn’t like this for reasons. No one else around him seems to care. Alia Shawkat is present. Danny DeVito’s wife is a supermodel type with a heart of gold. There are jokes and physical comedy set pieces and none of it lands or is funny. The technological marvels meant to show how over-the-top DeVito’s character’s efforts are have aged somewhat. There is a dads-and-daughters incest whoops-a-doodle joke.

And I feel like Broderick’s character’s problem might have been solved by shutting his window blinds. And why does he own a full outfit of spy gear? This movie is not dads-with-spy-gear zany.

If I’m learning anything about myself this holiday season, on my podcast blog’s annual Exploratory Christmas Endeavor (when I watch as many new-to-me holiday films as I can stomach) it is this: a movie with a decent setup, a decent cast, and a miserable script is a *thing* for me. It makes me hate a movie way more than the sum of its own mediocre elements. It makes the “waste of time” thing so, so much worse.

As badly written Christmas films driven by unlikeable characters played by otherwise competent actors go, this is the other, staler side of a coin whose opposite face is Christmas With the Kranks.

I hope I never watch this one again.

This is a copy of the review on my Letterboxd profile. There, I rated it 2/10.

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