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Film / Deck the Halls

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Deck the Halls is a 2006 Christmas comedy film directed by John Whitesell.

Matthew Broderick stars as Dr. Steve Finch, an eye doctor with a wife, Kelly (Kristin Davis) and two children, a teenaged daughter named Madison (Alia Shawcat), and a preteen son named Carter (Dylan Blue). Steve is adamant about his Christmas traditions, even to the point of it doing more harm than good for his family and everybody else involved. His Christmas tradition plans start spiraling down the tubes when his new neighbor, Buddy Hall (Danny DeVito) along with his wife, Tia (Kristin Chenoweth) and two twin daughters Emily (Kelly Aldridge) and Ashley (Sabrina Aldridge) move in to the only home just across the street. Buddy's daughters have discovered and shown him that you can view houses from space with a place called "My Earth" which is very much like "Google Earth." He is upset, though, that for some reason, their house doesn't appear, even though the Finches' house does.

It could be that their house has not been there very long and there never was a new satellite picture update taken of that place since. So, contrary to ones who would prefer privacy and that their homes remain unable to be captured by satellite, Buddy gets this obsession about wanting to get their house visible from space. So, as a result, he would have to garnish their home with Christmas lights. From that point on, because of how the bright lights and his whole showy Christmas display he goes as far as gets to Steve and even worse disrupt his intended Christmas traditions, things go for the worse between Buddy and Steve even to the point of practically wrecking their relationship as new neighbors. And much to their annoyed wives the only question is will they ever be able to patch that up?

Deck the Halls provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Bright Light: The main plot of the film is set forth when Buddy wants to decorate his house with enough lights to be seen from space.
  • Allergic to Routine: Buddy. He's amazingly talented and can excel at any job he works, but he quickly gets bored, quits, and moves the family somewhere new, racking up huge amounts of debt in the process. This is in direct contrast to Steve, who's more a Creature of Habit.
  • Apathetic Citizens: A particularly egregious example. Aside from Steve's family, no one is seemingly bothered at all by Buddy's obnoxious display, even after he intentionally ramps it up to eleven to stick it to Steve. Even then, Steve's family isn't affected by all the lights or noise either. Hell, Steve doesn't do anything when he finds out Buddy is stealing his power, he makes no effort to really stop it. The last two could be Justified by the rest of Steve's family getting on well enough with Buddy's and tolerating it and Steve just giving up on competing with Buddy any further, but the first example goes unexplained.
  • Berserk Button: When Steve is putting up with Buddy's lights and music just across the street during sleeping hours, it gets to the point where he finally goes downtown in the middle of the night to purchase illegal fireworks so he could set them off at Buddy's house hoping to scare him witless. Later on, he manages to end up destroying his own home with the last of the fireworks after managing to set some off at Buddy's house as planned, he discovers that Buddy was not even home when all of that happened, because Tia had walked out on him that night over being aggravated at him primarily for pawning a valuable heirloom of hers to pay off his lights and show, and Buddy spent all night at where she went trying to get her attention.
  • Brain Bleach: Before their skating contest, Steve and Buddy are watching a spectacle together with three pretty girls in Sexy Santa Dress doing a dance and are getting quite excited by them... until they realize that it's their respective daughters on the scene, to their horror. Cut to both of them in church washing their eyes with holy water.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Steve's 15-year old daughter Madison, who's extremely shy and insecure (and is forbidden by her father to date boys) and covers it up by lashing out at her family. With the help of Buddy's daughters helping her come out of her shell, and reconciling with Steve near the end of the movie, she gradually mellows out.
  • Brick Joke: At the beginning of the movie, Steve and the mayor are having a conversation and the mayor blurts out to him that Sheriff Dave is secretly a cross-dresser. Later in the movie, Steve goes to file a report against Buddy, only to notice Dave's pink bra (which he claims is a shoulder sling) and thong, both of which disgust him to the point of leaving.
    • This gets called back to later when Dave nonchalantly makes a remark about "getting my panties in a twist" and Steve tries to keep from wincing.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Steve Finch.
    • Buddy Hall is under Steve's revengeful tactics.
  • The Cameo: Jackie Burroughs, who played Hetty King in the Avonlea series, briefly appears in the beginning and several other scenes as Mrs. Ryor.
  • Chekhov's Gun: At one point, Tia shows Kelly her family heirloom vase, which is highlighted as she says it's worth more than the entire house. Later on, Buddy pawns it off in order to pay for more expensive LED lights, which causes Tia and his daughters to abandon him.
  • {{Chickification)): Steve's daughter Madison starts off with a rebellious goth punk image but hanging with the Hall twins has her acting increasingly like a bimbo, eventually joining them in their sexy Santa dance routine.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: If any of the characters had filed proper charges against the other, the plot would have ended much easily at multiple points in the film:
    • Steve does go to file a proper complaint about the lights to the police, but leaves right as Sheriff Dave is grabbing the paperwork because he got uncomfortable looking at the Sheriff's thong. Alternatively, he could have reported the possible theft of power from his house.
    • Buddy could have charged Steve with willful destruction of property for short-circuiting his fusebox with snow. He doesn't due to wanting to get back at Steve personally.
    • Steve could have had Buddy arrested for forging his name on a document and stealing the town's Christmas tree, but doesn't due to his pride blinding him as Buddy convinces him to make a wager on a race.
  • Curse Cut Short: In front of a bunch of people, Buddy announces that even as bright as he has already made his house, that he is nowhere near done. Steve responds with "Oh really!? Jesus!" Then with the whole town looking at him like he is a straight man of integrity who just cursed and with him getting that feeling, he instantly covers it up with saying "Christ the Lord is born this Christmas morning." Making it look like he was singing it as a compliment.
  • Double-Meaning Title: To "deck the halls" means to decorate for Christmas just as Buddy is doing, but at the same time Steve is trying to get back at Buddy and his family for their over-the-top decorations and is fighting him at every step of the way so as to "deck" the "Halls".
  • Fatal Fireworks: Steve tries to destroy Buddy's light displays with some illegal fireworks. Needless to say, his attempt at revenge backfires horrendously when one of the rockets, the Atomic Warlord, flies down the chimney of his own house and ultimately blows up the Christmas tree.
    Steve: (to Kelly) You sure you've been watering that thing? It went up awfully fast.
  • I'm Going to Hell for This: As he and Buddy wash out their eyes with holy water in a nearby church following their Brain Bleach moment (see above), Steve exclaims, "We're going to Hell!"
  • Informed Poverty: Buddy Hall's family apparently are in "monumental debt" as his wife puts it, but they have no issues affording a large house and spectacularly opulent Christmas decorations. The only time Buddy seems like he's hurting for cash is when he needs to buy an absurdly expensive piece of equipment for his light show, and pawns the priceless family heirloom to do so... and even then he's able to buy it back at the end of the film with seemingly no problem.
  • Just Eat Gilligan:
    • At one point, Steve is suspects Hall is stealing his power to, well, power his massive Christmas Lights display, as he keeps getting power surges and the like. Much later in the film, he goes to look at his fuse box and, sure enough, there's a huge plug with a cord running to Hall's house. Why he didn't think to simply walk around and check his fuse box before then is a mystery (the cord is obscured by the snow, explaining why he didn't see it, but that still doesn't explain the first part.)
    • In addition to being really bright, Hall's Christmas display involves playing blaring Christmas music until 4 in the morning. Not only are Steve and his family inexplicably the only ones who have a problem with this, they for some reason never think to just call in a noise complaint.
  • Karma Houdini: Steve and Buddy both eventually come back to their senses and make everything up to their families, but both have committed several criminal acts during the story, having disrupted the neighborhood, caused massive amounts of property damage, and Buddy has committed acts of theft and forgery just to sabotage Steve. Both are let off scot-free.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Buddy's wife and twin daughters definitely count as such; lampshaded by Steve's son.
  • Over-the-Top Christmas Decorations: Buddy Hall's goal is to have his Christmas light display seen from space.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Both Steve and Buddy's families end up leaving them to spend Christmas in a hotel room, fed up with the two's increasingly erratic and dangerous antics against each other. Steve and Buddy then make amends in order to win them back.
  • Surprise Incest: Both Steve and Buddy show attraction towards the three dancers wearing Sexy Santa Dress. However, they are then disgusted when they realize that they are their daughters.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Mrs. Ryor, when Steve is speeding towards her in an out-of-control sleigh, just stands there and waits for it to crash into her rather than move (or attempt to) out of the way like any person with half a brain.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife:
    • Tia, played by the lovely Kristin Chenoweth to Danny DeVito's Buddy.
    • To a lesser extent, Kelly to Steve.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: At the Christmas show (which is being attended by everyone in town) Buddy and Steve start acting like dirty old men and making a bunch of perverted comments to the girls on stage. Even ignoring how the three girls turn out to be their own daughters, you'd think the rest of the townfolk would be giving them dirty looks at like for being so sleazy, especially since it was meant to be a family-friendly event.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Sheriff Dave is shown to enjoy wearing ladies' undergarments.
  • Wilhelm Scream: Overheard when Buddy's house of lights is finally visible from space, overloading the display screens of the watching TV news crew.