DECK THE HALLS (John Whitesell). 107 minutes. For venues and times, see Movies, page 106. Rating: N Rating: N
Here's a comedy so lame it can't even strike a spark with runaway horses, a staple of movie fun from the silents onward. If you can't get a spark out of them, you're in the wrong business. Director John Whitesell , take note.
Matthew Broderick plays an uptight white-bread Christmas fanatic driven to berserk revenge when his new neighbour puts up enough Christmas lights to be seen from outer space. Broderick's performance is so perfunctory, he seems at times to be a non-English speaker reciting his lines by rote. Danny DeVito , as the neighbour, gets exactly one scene where he gets to play the subtext. Otherwise, he pumps out his standard-brand shtick. But to no avail.
The script is too timid for any of the extremes promised by the set-up and dialogue. Whitesell's direction is Disney Channel bland and races from scene to scene, barely acknowledging the gags, let alone milking them.
George Clinton 's score smears Christmas-flavoured comedy music clichés all over everything, adding the kind of irritation you'll be able to get for free in every mall for the rest of the year.
In the end, lessons are learned -- every friggin' lesson they can cram in. The main one speaks against rigidity and predictability. If only the filmmakers had taken their own lesson to heart.