Today’s Prayer Focus

Deck the Halls

MPA Rating: PG-Rating (MPA) for some crude and suggestive humor, and for language.

Reviewed by: Lori Souder

Moral Rating: Average
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Family Adults Kids
Genre: Christmas Comedy
Length: 1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release: 2006
USA Release: November 22, 2006 (wide)
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Featuring Danny DeVito, Matthew Broderick, Kristin Chenoweth, Kristin Davis, Alia Shawkat
Director John P. Whitesell
Producer Michael Costigan
Jeremiah Samuels
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Trademark logo.
20th Century Studios
, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company

“There glows the neighborhood”

At the opening of the movie we are introduced to an eye doctor (Matthew Broderick) who is happy with his place in his quaint little Massachusetts town. Steve Finch has a nice home in a attractive neighborhood, a pretty wife (Kristin Davis), and two older children. He is “Mr. Christmas” in his town, and he has a calendar made of wood that is followed religiously every year starting on the first day of December. Each calendar day has a painted symbol on each side of the inset block that is turned over when the day arrives. The Finch family is reluctant to begin the Christmas treadmill, but it means so much to Steve that they try to put up with it.

Meanwhile, their next door neighbor’s house finally finds a buyer. Buddy Hall (Danny DeVito) moves in noisily in the middle of the night. It is just the beginning of many sleepless nights for the Finch family. The Halls try to be friendly, but end up making a bad first impression on their neighbors. Things go downhill quickly between Steve Finch and Buddy Hall, but their wives and children bond.

Soon the real trouble starts. Buddy Hall becomes obsessed with having his light-covered house seen from satellites in space, and Steve Finch wants to remain the local authority on Christmas, and also wants to get a night’s sleep without beacons beaming into his bedroom. Dirty tricks between the two men escalate to become a blood feud.

This movie lacks some of the things that make a comedy work. There were no subplots or goofy side-characters. No running jokes. No development of the children’s personalities or Danny DeVito’s character. I don’t know what would be of interest to children in this movie, other than the bright lights on the over-decorated house and the animals in the living nativity scene.

In the first few minutes of the film, there were references to a Meth lab, cross dressing, a peeping tom, and there is some major cleavage spillage (no nudity). There are also a couple of other references/innuendos to sex and sexual organs that I would rather not mention. The Lord’s name is taken in vain throughout the movie. The name of Jesus only comes up once in the movie before the finale, and it is taken in vain as well. There is one short scene in a church, where Holy Water was used to try to cancel out some sins of lust.

I kept waiting for the movie to feel fun or for the comedy to “kick in,” but it never happened for me. There are some really funny moments, but the vast majority had already been revealed in the movie trailers. The movie plods on and on, seemingly going nowhere, and it just felt to me like a series of train wrecks. I think the movie had a lot of potential to be cute and hilarious, but it missed the mark.

The movie kept repeating over and over, near the end, that the true meaning of Christmas is about being with your family. But that is not the true meaning of Christmas, at all. It is that God lovingly sacrificed his only begotten son for us, his undeserving but beloved human creations.

I really wanted to like this movie, the trailers were very wild and comical, and the movie seemed full of possibilities. But the script just was not up to the quality of the fine actors. Danny DeVito adds his usual charisma, and Broderick his believable “everyman” quality, but even they could not pull much meaning out of a Christmas story with no heart. Kristin Chenoweth who plays Tia Hall is charming and funny, but her over-ample cleavage was really the only thing that the director (John Whitesell) wants us to notice about her.

The editing is choppy; sometimes the pace is hectic, and other times slow and boring. Some of the jokes seem to have the punchlines taken out, one included skittish mystery horses, and another one about sailors going off to war. I suspect that the movie was re-cut and the worst jokes left out to make it seem more family-friendly. Also, part of the ending seemed totally out of place. The ending was all holiday lights, noise, holiday lights, noise, a quiet and a deeply meaningful Christian Christmas Hymn, and then more holiday lights and noise, and Ta Da… the end.

Those quiet reverent moments seemed totally out of context with the entire movie. They seem added in after the fact, just to justify that the movie has anything meaningful to say about Christmas at all.

The main theme of the movie is about getting what you want. Even at the part, when the two warring men, Hall and Finch, are down for the count, they just figured out how to get back what they want, not regretting who they have hurt or what they had done to each other and their Christmas memories. So they conspire to attain their goals together, but not because of any genuine remorse or humbleness. It was sad to see.

The movie should have been rated PG-13 for the references to adult issues, drugs, etc. I just don’t think many children would enjoy it, as the young people really had little to do with the plot. They were just props for some sexual humor and acted mostly as place-fillers. Finch’s teenage girl was, in one scene, an object of lust for the two adult men, one her father, and in another short scene seemed to be dating a group of men going off to war …it was not fully explained, and her parents had previously said that she was too young to date! I was very confused by this, and I don’t think the messages are good ones. In fact, there are not any good messages in the movie.

The movie was very disappointing, but if you have not seen the trailers over and over again, you probably would enjoy it after some offensive references are cut for television broadcast. But don’t expect a “feel good” Christmas movie. It just is not that kind of film.

I cannot recommend “Deck the Halls.” It may be a Christmas movie, but it is not about Christmas. I think it is mostly about making money at Christmas time.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Minor

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Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Neutral—I agree that this movie deserved a PG-13 rating, instead of a PG rating. Although some parts of this movie are lewd, and as a Christian, it obviously has very little good morals in this movie. In spite of that, the slapstick humor was laugh-out-loud funny. Most of the humor was slapstick, not telling jokes. Anyways, I stand neutral on this movie. Yes, some of the content is objectionable and offensive, especially if you fear God. It’s not appropriate for children to watch. For adults, it’s enjoyable if you like slapstick humor. I still enjoyed this movie, in spite of some of the things that are obviously wrong in this movie. If you’re going to be offended by this movie, please don’t watch. And if you want to apply Romans 14 KJV to it, don’t let your Christian liberty cause a brother or sister in Christ to stumble. If they’re going to be offended by this movie, don’t watch it in their presence. And offend has two meanings: One is to make someone angry and outraged. The other meaning is to tempt people into sin. And that’s why you don’t want to show this movie to children. It would be wrong, and you don’t want to face God’s millstone at the judgement.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Daniel Budd, age 37 (USA)
Negative—I took my three young children to see “Deck the Halls” thinking it was a family movie. Amazing enough, while billed as a family movie, all the humor is geared at adults. Way too much cleavage and references to sex for me or my children. The last thing I wanted my children to see was a cross-dressing sheriff whose thong is clearly visible when he bends over or the families’ teenage girls dancing seductively while their dads make crude comments at them. When looking for a Christmas movie for the family, take my advice and pick something else.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
Matt, age 39
Negative—This is one of the worst movies that I have ever seen in my life! It’s simply the stupidest Christmas film ever made, besides “Surviving Christmas.” I hated every single minute of it! How they got Matthew Broderick to take part in this thing is beyond me. I laughed once. That was it. The message was cliched and corny. I didn’t care for any of the characters, so I didn’t really care what happened to them. I could care less. There is a scene near the end involving millions of cell phones and hundreds of townsfolk singing a Christmas carol in unison that had me, and nearly everyone else that I was with, rolling their eyes in disgust. Plus, it’s a PG-rated film, but it should be PG-13. Trust me. Think before taking your kids. I hated this movie. I really, really hated it. Please don’t go see it. I beg you. Don’t go. Rent “Home Alone” if you want a Christmas classic. After watching “Home Alone” last night, and watching “Deck the Halls” this afternoon, I have come to one conclusion, and that is—they just don’t make 'em like they used to.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 1
Adam Renkovish, age 24
Negative—I thought this movie was predictable and had unnecessary sexual content. There was never a time when I thought any of it was funny. I went away feeling like I had wasted my time. I am glad I didn’t bring my 14 year old son to see the way that they portrayed teenagers as having no control over their hormones and second to see the way that the twin girls dressed. This movie could have had potential if it was a little more believable, had less dumb humor and if it had a more positive teenage influence.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
Shirley, age 39
Negative—An American “Family Film” made in 2006 with NO African Americans at all anywhere in the entire film? In ANY speaking role? AND not even any black extras filling in the background? In the American media world we live in these days that’s something you have to go out of your way to do ON PURPOSE. Why whould the director and producer decide to do such a thing? For I am convinced that it was not an accident. What terrible fate whould have befallen them to include African Americnans in their trite, syrupy and utterly mediocre tale?…
My Ratings: Offensive / 2
CB, age 51
Negative—It was not the movie I expected to see. I thought it would be more in line with the “Home Alone” series. The movie was slow, and the main characters were a bit boring. It did accurately tell the story of how many people view Christmas as a commercially-driven holiday, rather than a celebration of God’s greatest gift to the world. The only redeeming quality in the entire movie was at the end when they sang of the Christ. This warm and fuzzy was soon over-shadowed by the final attack of the movie on our faith in that the light that is seen from Earth (the house) could out shine the light of the world. The movie was disappointing as the story line goes, but the sound track was good. Wow and to think I paid $9.00 to hear songs that I can’t listen to again.
My Ratings: Average / 3
M Materre, age 45
Negative—I took my wife and four sons to see this film. I hoped it would be a good family Christmas film. I was very unhappy. Though there was no nudity, there was one scene where the men lusted after their own daughters, then the next scene shows them washing their eyes with Holy water. I am not Catholic, but I felt that was not tasteful to the faith. As well as the sheriff wearing women’s clothing, including a thong, under his uniform. I really wish that the movie industry would revamp the way they do ratings, so I would know what I am taking my kids to see.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3½
Robert, age 32
Negative—I found this movie to be extremely offensive. I went with my husband and two of our friends who are not believers that we are trying to win to Christ and their five-year old son, and I felt totally convicted. There were several scenes where one of the woman’s chest was hanging out all over the place and there was a scene where the two dad’s were lusting after their own daughters who were wearing very provacative clothing, and then showed them in a Catholic church washing their eyes in “holy water” saying they were going to hell. I found that very offensive. There were also quite a few other instances that offended me. I would not recommend anyone who tries to uphold Christian morals and values to go see this movie, and surely not to take your kids to go see it. I would have rated this movie PG-13.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 3
Angie, age 18
Negative—I took my younger brother and sisters (ages 2, 6,and 15) to see this movie, when my husband and I were visiting for Christmas. We stayed a grand total of about 15 min. before I took them and walked out of the theater! Within that amount of time, we heard several sexual references including talk about putting “strip” poles in the parents’ bedroom, exposed male genitals, outrageous amount of cleavage, cross-dressing, etc., etc. I’m glad to say I don’t know how the rest of the movie went, but we had seen enough to know we wouldn’t be missing out on anything! Save your money, your time, and your kids! This is not an appropriate movie for ANYBODY.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 1
Holly, age 20
Comments from young people
Negative—We walked out on this movie in the theater. There was a lot of immodesty and suggestive talk. It was not worth seeing. It had a poor storyline, and every one played sterotypes.
My Ratings: Offensive / 2
Hannah, age 12
Negative—“Deck The Halls” was one of the worst Christmas movies I’ve ever seen. I found the whole movie very boring. And it should have been PG-13. There were some inappproprate things that where unnecessary. I wouldnt recommend it.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
Lauren, age 14