Story

Steve (Matthew Broderick) and Kelly (Kristin Davis) Finch lead a nice, orderly life with their two adolescent children, 15-year-old Madison (Alia Shawkat) and 10-year-old Carter (Dylan Blue) in a nice, neat neighbourhood. However, their order is seriously disrupted when new neighbours Buddy (Danny De Vito) and Tia (Kristin Chenoweth) Hall move in across the road with their twin teenage daughters. It soon becomes very obvious that the Halls are the exact opposite of the Finches.

Buddy gets a job as a used car salesman, but even though he’s very good at his job, he’s still trying to find his niche in life. With Christmas approaching, Buddy starts decorating his house with lights. This turns into an obsession when he decides he wants his house to be bright enough to be seen from space. The Finch family is naturally very put out by this, not only because their sleep is interrupted by the bright lights and accompanying loud music, but also because it threatens Steve's reputation in town as the ‘Christmas Guy’.

What ensues is a fierce competition between Buddy and Steve while the other family members make friends. Steve is unhappy about the friendship and the influence the Halls are having on his children, whom he has reared very strictly. The Halls’s moral standards are very different from Steve's, particularly when it comes to following the law. The lead up to Christmas becomes more and more tense until finally Kelly and Tia can’t take anymore and they have to move out to make their husbands see sense.

Themes

Unlawful behaviour

Violence

There is some slapstick violence in this movie. For example:

  • Steve, dressed in a Santa costume and sitting in a sleigh, is suddenly pulled along by the horses who have taken fright. The sleigh, out of control, almost hits a car, then seperates from the horses and plunges over a cliff. Steve ends up falling into a frozen lake.
  • Steve accidentally knocks over a petrol can while chopping down a Christmas tree. The sparks from the axe ignite the petrol which burns down all of the Christmas trees.
  • Buddy gives himself an electric shock.
  • Steve falls into a camel pen, gets covered in muck and is covered in camel spew.
  • Steve accidentally knocks down an old lady with a snowball.
  • Tia and Kelly both hit their husbands for being stupid.
  • In an ice-skating race, skaters deliberately knock others down so they can win.
  • Steve shoots rocket fireworks at Danny’s house and accidentally sets off the whole lot. One backfires and goes into his own house, setting fire to his Christmas tree and doing a lot of damage.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

A scene where Buddy describes how he dropped a refrigerator on a cat while moving into the house could disturb children in this age group.

Over 8

It is unlikely that anything in this movie would scare or disturb children over the age of eight.

Sexual references

  • A friend mentions to Steve that Dave, the local policeman, is a cross-dresser. He is later shown wearing a pink bra and G-string.
  • The Halls teenage girls are often scantily dressed, much to the delight of Carter.
  • Steve and Buddy are shown inside a sleeping bag with nothing on as Buddy is trying to warm Steve up after falling through the ice.
  • It is implied that Carter sees a large picture of Tia in the nude (although nothing is actually shown).
  • Buddy and Steve are watching a rear view of ‘Santa Babes’ on the stage who are dressed in hot pants. They’re both drooling over them and yelling out to them when, much to their horror, the girls turn around and they realise that they are, in fact, their own three daughters. Many will find this behaviour towards teenagers quite distasteful.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

In this movie, people drink alcohol at home and on the street.

Nudity and sexual activity

None

Product placement

None

Coarse language 

This movie contains some mild coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Deck the Halls is a family Christmas movie that few will find amusing. It is full of stereotypes and lacks imagination. The movie is supposed to be about the true meaning of Christmas but is not convincing.

The movie portrays law-abiding citizens as dull and boring while people who skirt around the law are seen to be funny and more likeable. Buddy commits several crimes which are presented as being funny and go unpunished. For example, he:

  • cuts down the town’s Christmas tree and gives it to Steve as a present
  • gives Steve a present of a new car and then tells him he has to pay for it
  • steals Steve’s electricity and newspapers.