The 2006 holiday thrill ride, ‘Deck the Halls’, was not well received. It has a 6% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Critic Stephen Hunter suggested in should be called ‘Dreck the Halls’ instead. That’s a poor pun, mine is better and more accurate, but his sentiment stands. I haven’t seen this film for over a year and refuse to re-watch it, so I am relying on tweets I made last year to assist this review, as well as the scarring memories.
‘Deck the Halls’, for those who haven’t seen it, is a farcical mess starring Matthew Broderick and Danny Devito as hapless men teetering over into mid life crisis. The plot is genuinely baffling – Devito’s character, the inappropriately named Buddy, tries to get his house seen from space by adorning it with christmas lights.
He does this to the extreme annoyance of Matthew Broderick’s character, Steve, who is inexplicably some sort of Christmas expert, is angry at being out-christmassed, and he’s the Christmas guy about town! Nobody else could possibly like Christmas, it’s Steve’s thing! So the two men are at odds, while their poor suffering wives, Kristen’s Davis and Chenowith, make friends like normal humans. The men cannot manage such a feat. Steve is legitimately crazed, he is horrible to his family and to Buddy, which is honestly not in the Christmas spirit that he claims to love. However, Buddy is just as awful. He steals a car from his dealership and gives it to Steve, knowing full well that Steve will have to pay for it. Because it’s STOLEN.
Steve obviously can’t pay for the car, and fears arrest – but here in the ridiculous plot of ‘Deck the Halls’, they decide to solve this problem with an ice skating race. This is terrible on so many levels, especially due to the fact that they have to wear tight ice skating outfits. Also, what sort of fucking mad town is this – the ice skating race is at ‘WinterFest’, and it looks as shit as it sounds. Everyone is this place is literally obsessed with Christmas. It makes you wonder why Steve was so worried about a new Christmas guy stealing his thunder, they are ALL digging it on a major level. Including Hurley from Lost, who is in fact commentating on the ice skating race. By the way, Steve loses. He acts like this is a surprise but to be honest, as my next tweet shows, he had it coming.
Steve is a sore loser, and screams at Buddy post-race about his lights. Buddy, according to my past self, ‘looked hurt’. I cannot stress enough how much of a dangerous person Steve is. He is also probably not medically sane. During the course of the film he stares in a predator-like way at a man in a bra (I’m fairly sure this took place in a police station, where Steve was being kept for stealing a Christmas tree), makes incestual jokes about his daughter, Maeby from Arrested Development, and buys illegal grade fireworks to shoot at Buddy’s house. Buddy’s house by now is completely covered in lights, plays on a loop throughout the night, includes sounds and a flashing image of his own face.
Does the firework plan go well? In short, no.
Buddy is not as awful as Steve– at least he started off with good intentions – but he comes close. He pawns his wife’s prized vase (who fucking knows) because he lost his job at the car dealership and now can’t afford anymore lights. His wife and children also leave him. Naturally. If I was either Kristen, I’d leave and never ever return.
I don’t think that ‘Deck the Halls’ is worth any depth of analysis, but it seems like Steve and Buddy are using Christmas to compensate for … something. Hence the Dick the Halls pun. There is a homoerotic moment in which they are naked together in a sleeping bag. They both have way out their league wives. They are aging, balding (or in Buddy’s case, old and bald). It’s natural that they feel insecure – but the extent they go to is preposterous. I know this is meant to be a fun Christmas film, but it’s not fun in the slightest. They’ve made Christmas mean! Violent! Sad! ‘Deck the Halls’ is a tragedy from start to finish, despite the happy ending (the house is seen from space. The whole world tunes in. I’m fairly sure Steve sang).