This 2006 festive comedy is directed by John Whitesell and stars Danny DeVito, Matthew Broderick, Kristin Davis, and Kristin Chenoweth.
Massachusetts Christmas patriarch Steve Finch (Broderick) has a seemingly perfect family and social life, with wife Kelly (Davis) and two children all set to celebrate Christmas. However, new neighbours arrive that immediately disrupts Steve’s idyllic neighbourhood scenario; Buddy Hall (DeVito) and wife Tia (Chenoweth) and two twin daughters.
After warming to many in town, Buddy decides to take on a mammoth task – to decorate
his house with enough Christmas lights to be seen from space. This is met with great excitement in the community, but Steve is furious at the growing “noise and light pollution” Buddy starts to create, followed by sleepless nights and many bickering confrontations.
Their mini-war soon escalates, each trying to better the other in the eyes of the community with Steve trying to sabotage Buddy, and Buddy trying to humiliate Steve. But as they clash, it soon takes its toll on the families, and soon the two men are left to choose what is more important to them at Christmas; family or pride… This mediocre festive film offers lots of cheese in respect of acting, plot and gags- enough to turn your milk sour but still be watchable to the point of how bad it is, but how good it is because of it.
It’s typically predictable, setting up two warring middle-aged men who will use Christmas as a battleground for many slapstick confrontations, fights and disasters and will then be won over by a loving community and even more loving family. Everything else is just very tepid.
Matthew Broderick seems to think he’s funnier than he really is, and many of his pratfalls and witty one-liners don’t ever take off and they all come over as very wooden. DeVito, however, is quite amusing with his taunts and slippery ways of humiliating his enemy. A few amusing put-downs here and there make him watchable, but surrounded by two big boobs (and Kristin Chenoweth), it’s quite distracting when his wife is on screen.
The action (if you can call it that) is slapstick, and a checkbox of festive disasters waiting to happen which doesn’t set the bar, but it’s harmless enough for this time of year for 88-minutes.
Directed by: John Whitesell
Starring: Danny DeVito, Matthew Broderick, Kristin Davis, Kristin Chenoweth.