6. Deck the Halls
The message: It’s fine to ruin everything as long as you try to fix it after
Having recently rewatched this sad excuse for Christmas entertainment, I feel uniquely qualified to comment on the message this one broadcasts. Deck the Halls is by no stretch of the imagination a good film, but its enduring popularity undoubtedly comes by way of its recognizable stars and festive visuals. That said, it’s the cinematic equivalent of a Christmas pudding: it’s got that festive look, but it leaves a funny taste in your mouth.
To briefly outline the plot, Deck the Halls follows Steve Finch (Matthew Broderick) as he engages in a bitter rivalry with his new neighbor, Buddy Hall (Danny Devito). The pair’s animosity spills over into almost every aspect of their small town’s life, ultimately culminating in the pair ruining their respective families’ Christmases. However, when all seems lost and their wives and children leave them alone on Christmas Eve, the two neighbors put their resentment on hold for long enough to cook a meal and repeatedly redecorate their houses and their town.
There’s a massive number of things wrong with Deck the Halls, but probably the biggest is that for 90% of the film’s short runtime, the two men are at each other’s throats with no regard whatsoever for their families. Suddenly, when all seems lost, they’re able to make one semi-decent gesture, and it’s somehow enough to win them all back. This actually establishes a pretty troublesome precedent, as it’s shown that the two clearly intend to continue their rivalry in the New Year, dooming their families to live through it again. It sends the message to its audience that as long as someone makes a small effort come Christmas time, you can forgive the awful things they’ve done as recently as that same day – including burning the house down while shooting fireworks at a neighbor’s house..