DECK THE HALLS
Christmas may bring out the best in most people, but what is it about the holiday that brings out the worst in Hollywood filmmakers? And now here comes Deck the Halls, yet another holiday hack job that champions cynicism and mean-spiritedness before tacking on a phony redemptive ending meant to fool us into believing that we actually sat through something of value. Mind you, I’m all for seasonal cynicism when done right: Few Christmas flicks are as vicious – or as funny – as Bad Santa. But Deck the Halls seems to have been conceived on the back of a snot-soaked tissue by a none-too-bright second grader: Its gags are all on the order of having obnoxious car salesman Buddy Hall (Danny DeVito) climbing buck-naked into a sleeping bag with frostbitten neighbor Steve Finch (Matthew Broderick) in an effort to warm him up (after all, nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a smattering of gay panic, right?), or the two men leering and hooting at teenage girls who turn out to be their own daughters (after all, nothing says “Merry Christmas” like allusions to incest, right?). The imbecilic plot concerns Steve’s disgust at Buddy’s desire to put enough Christmas lights on his house so it can be seen from outer space. Before it’s all done, Steve will find himself trapped on a runaway sled, spit upon by an angry camel, and shunned by his Instant Sitcom-Ready Family (i.e. just add laugh track). But why waste time describing this? Deck the Halls is the sort of film made for people who only see two or three theatrical releases a year – and even then only after they’ve determined that the picture in question will in no way stimulate them or upset their carefully orchestrated universe.