Starring: Matthew Broderick, Danny DeVito, Kristin Davis
Director: John Whitesell
Running Time: 93 mins
Deck The Halls is an American film about two neighbours who enter into a rivalry after one of them decides to cover his house in enough lights to make it visible from space, whilst the other attempts to save his perfect vision of Christmas.
There are some really scathing reviews for this movie around and about, and whilst it’s definitely not a work of art, and features a totally predictable and at times sickly story, a lot of Deck The Halls is actually pretty bearable. I realise that’s not the world’s greatest compliment, but it’s a film full of okay performances and comedy that manage to lighten what is in truth a completely unoriginal and brainless film.
But again, it’s Christmas, and sometimes that sort of movie is just what you need. There are of course better holiday films out there, but I’m going to start off by defending some of Deck The Halls.
If there’s one thing that I was surprised by here, then it was the comedy. It’s not hilarious, but I had a good few chuckles from start to finish, and (with the exception of the ghastly first act), there’s nothing particularly offensive or painful that tries to make you laugh, paving the way for a very simple and light-hearted Christmas flick that, whilst it won’t have you laughing your socks off, is perfectly adequate and enjoyable for a lot of its runtime.
Also, the performances aren’t all that bad either. Matthew Broderick gets a lot of stick for being dull and boring (which is only used in comparison to Ferris Bueller), but in this film, he manages to use that style to his advantage. He gives a convincing and entertaining turn as a highly-strung man who is pushed to the edge by his obnoxious neighbour, also very well-played by Danny DeVito, and it was his performance that helped me get angry with DeVito’s character, making the subsequent rivalry between the two a lot more entertaining.
However, whilst there are a few things that the film does well, it is a mostly unoriginal and often dull affair. The first act is the worst culprit of this, using awful comedy and a completely generic set-up to begin with, however the story, one of a man hating another yet everyone else telling him ‘he’s not so bad/lighten up!’, is completely predictable throughout, meaning that the only real opportunity for great entertainment comes from the humour.
Overall, it’s not a particularly enthralling film, and although the fact that it’s perfectly braindead and predictable occasionally gives it a bearable light-hearted atmosphere (save for the painfully cheesy ending), Deck The Halls isn’t a great movie. It’s watchable, and a fair way to spend 90 minutes of Christmas, but don’t expect anything more, which is why I’m giving it a 6.5.