Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #78, Deck The Halls

This would be the 2006 Deck The Halls about a small-town rivalry between Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito. I looked at the guide on my cable system at one point last week to see the movie was on Lifetime, so I DVR-ed it to watch it later. Little did I know that Lifetime was actually showing 2005's Deck The Halls, a movie starring Gabrielle Carteris as a widow who finds love and learns the spirit of Christmas from an unlikely stranger. I almost watched that one, because how could you not, but decided instead to find the one I was supposed to watch.

Last Christmas Eve, I watched #91 on this list, Surviving Christmas, starring Ben Affleck and Christina Applegate, and wrote this:
There's a lot of schlock thrown around this time of year. More than half of the kids shows that the networks run are beyond garbage. Most of the music is crap compared to real music. People get sucked up in the season and are willing to put up with what seems like almost anything. You end up with these sentimental family movies. Christmas stuff can only be compared to Christmas stuff, because if you compare Christmas stuff to non-Christmas stuff on an even playing field, Christmas stuff gets its collective holly-decked ass kicked.
I may as well just use that because it fits Deck The Halls to a "T." And that "T" stands for terrible, trivial, trifling, and trite. I have rarely seen a Christmas movie that is such a pure piece of tinsel-covered poop wrapped in a bright, red bow. CBS has their crappy Hallmark Hall of Fame movies, but this one was a major release! Starring Broderick, DeVito, Kristin Davis, and Kristin Chenoweth! The two main characters portray family men and neighbors. Broderick is Steve Finch, a man who loves Christmas but has growing kids who are trying to pull away from family traditions. DeVito plays Buddy Hall (Get it? Deck the Halls?!), a guy deeply in debt who can't hold down a job and has never amounted to anything, even though he has a beautiful family. Looking at what is essentially Google Earth, Hall sees that he can't see his house from space because it's much smaller than his neighbors' homes. Absurd, because that's not how that site works, but whatever. He decides he's going to mortgage his entire life to put up enough lights that his house can be seen from space, but the lights bother Finch, who goes crazy trying to fight back. In one dramatic moment, he even goes so far as to call Hall a "screw-up!" If you guessed that both men get so obsessive in their rivalry that their families move out and they have to win them back in a touching display of Christmas spirit that involves people from all over the town bringing enough lights so that Hall's house can finally be seen from space, well, I'm not going to spoil it for you.

None of the jokes in this movie work. None. The kids have gags, the adults have gags, there is slapstick, there are one-liners, there is more horrible slapstick. Don't miss the scene where they have a wacky speed-skating race with a German-accented Fred Armisen! All falls flat. Then, after the movie has failed and failed and failed, the director wants you to understand that Christmas is a time for love. Even though, the two guys hate each other and have cost each other thousands of dollars and put each other into debt to the point that Hall jokes about never being able to use his credit cards again! But, hey, the two guys made sweet potatoes, so it's cool.

Lucky for the men and all of the rest of the people of their Massachusetts town, their Christmas spirit doesn't have to bogged down by any Jews or any other minorities! There are absolutely none in the town until the female Asian reporter shows up from MTV to see if the house can be lit up enough and throws it to the scientist in charge of the Google Earth-ish site, played by Kal Penn. Even when the townspeople are (or are not, spoiler-wise) bringing lamps and other lights to light up Hall's house, they couldn't have snuck in a token menorah? I guess all the Jews were too busy counting their money to come see the show and Lord knows there are no black people where it's cold! Speaking of the cold, when the house finally can (or cannot) be seen from space, it's snowing. So there would be cloud cover. But I guess the brilliant Indian scientist figured out how to get past that so that the white people could all celebrate their love-filled (read: no annoying people not like them who don't celebrate Christmas) holiday.

Seriously, this is the kind of movie that makes me hate Christmas. I don't mind that there are no minorities in It's A Wonderful Life. Minorities (except for the drunk Italian, Martini) weren't allowed in Bedford Falls in 1946! A sad chapter in upstate New York history, to be sure, but I'm sure that once George kicked old Potter out, a synagogue and an AME church went up within weeks. But in 2006 Massachusetts?! Gabe Kapler and Kevin Youkilis had led the Red Sox to a Series win by then and Troy Brown had led the Pats to a few titles. I can only assume that Deck The Halls (not the one where the woman who played Andrea Zuckerman played a Christian woman, mind you) took place in a KKK enclave. Burning crosses can be seen from space, gentlemen. They can be seen from space by God.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So you didn't like it?