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DECK THE HALLS

SYNOPSIS:
Cloverdale Massachusetts optometrist Steve Finch (Matthew Broderick) loves the Christmas season, and each year organizes hokey traditions that make his loving wife Kelly (Kristin Davis), rebellious teenage daughter Madison (Alia Shawkat) and 10 year old son Carter (Dylan Blue) cringe. But when car salesman Buddy Hall (Danny DeVito) moves in next door with his outgoing wife Tia (Kristin Chenoweth) and sexy teenage twins Ashley and Emily (Sabrina and Kelly Aldridge), his Christmas fun is crippled. Steve is undermined when Buddy decks his house out with thousands of lights in a bid to make his home visible from outer space on the satellite. But that is just the beginning. What was going to be a happy holiday season becomes a rivalry nightmare.

Review by Louise Keller:
As good-hearted as it may be, Deck The Halls is too lightweight to leave more than a fleeting impact. The idea of two neighbours competing with each other is funny enough, but no matter how the one-joke premise is embellished, nothing hides the fact that it is more suited to a television comedy skit. Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito are deserving of better material than this. Written by first time screenwriters Matt Corman and Chris Ord and directed by television director John Whitesell, there are some laughs and the story is amenable enough, but it is as though it has been dumbed-down for its audience.

Matthew Broderick's Steve is 'The Christmas Guy'. He cherishes his happy Christmas memories as a child and is intent on making sure his own children experience the same. There's the annual family photo (dressed in matching sweaters), the traditional Christmas tree harvesting and the wall-hanging calendar through which he organises his game plan. When Danny DeVito's Buddy and his family moves into the house opposite, things go wrong from the start. Buddy is a likeable loser, who has moved from town to town in search for his dream of doing something monumental. When he gets the idea to light up his house, hoping that it will be visible from the satellite, he takes the notion to the extreme. After all, he believes that this is his chance to stop being invisible. As Buddy goes overboard to create a Christmas wonderland outside his home with thousands of flashing lights, giant Santas, candy sticks, snowmen and synchronised music, Steve feels threatened. All the attention that he usually enjoys is filtered in bright neon across the road, where the whole Christmas package (including a donkey, camel, cow and sheep) are gaudily displayed.

The film concentrates on slapstick and situation humour as Steve and Buddy's competitive nature comes to a head. Kristin Chenoweth is a breath of fresh air as Buddy's vibrant and buxom wife Tia; she and DeVito make an appealing couple. Through the chaos, the all-important themes of family become apparent, and there is never any doubt as to where the story is headed. Deck The Halls is bright and cheery with a pleasing music score by George S. Clinton. While it is not a bad film, it flounders in the realms of mediocrity.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

DECK THE HALLS (PG)
(US, 2006)

CAST: Danny DeVito, Matthew Broderick, Kristin Davis, Kristin Chenoweth, Alia Shawkat, Sabrina Aldridge, Kelly Aldridge

PRODUCER: Michael Costigan

DIRECTOR: John Whitesell

SCRIPT: Matt Corman, Chris Ord, Don Rhymer

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mark Irwin

EDITOR: Paul Hirsch

MUSIC: George S. Clinton

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Bill Brzeski

RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 23, 2006







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