Sight and Sound - 02/01/2007
"A thoroughly unpretentious comedy..."
A slapstick holiday heart-warmer in the tradition of HOME ALONE, DECK THE HALLS boasts an excellent cast that includes both seasoned actors and promising stars. Matthew Broderick (FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF) stars as Steve Finch, an optometrist in the postcard town of Cloverdale, Massachusetts, who does double duty as the town's "Christmas Guy." Steve was raised as an army brat, and as an adult looks to make up for his childhood's lack of Yuletide cheer, organizing Christmas around a strict regimen of maximum celebration efficiency. Because Steve finds his kids turning out a little weirder than he would like--10-year-old Carter (Dylan Blue) is suffering a midlife crisis and teenage Madison (Aliyah Shawkat, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT) is a loner with a bad attitude--he deems them in need of heightened holiday cheer. Steve's hopes for the perfect Christmas are disturbed, however, when new neighbors move in across the street. Car salesman Buddy Hall (Danny DeVito, BE COOL), his wife Tia (Kristen Chenoweth, RUNNING WITH SCISSORS), and their blonde-bombshell twin daughters (Sabrina and Kelly Aldridge) are a bit rowdier than most of the folks in the Finches' quiet neighborhood, to say the least. When Buddy takes it upon himself to create an extravagant Christmas spectacle so that his house can be seen from space, the rivalry between Steve and Buddy reaches drastic heights of ridiculousness, until both men learn a little something about the meaning of Christmas.
Although Cloverdale resembles few contemporary American towns in its community made up exclusively of well-to-do Christians, DECK THE HALLS offers much for families to enjoy, with a warm message about the importance of family and the value of spontaneity in a culture of efficiency. Kristen Davis of SEX AND THE CITY charms as Steve's wife Kelly, while Broderick and DeVito are always fun to watch.