Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito bring a Christmas comedy to the big screen that is as predicable as 1,2,3…
1. The film begins with Broderick playing the established small town family man who is in charge of WinterFest. 2. A new neighbor (DeVito) moves in and immediately gets on Broderick’s character’s nerves. 3. The new neighbor brings in lights and livestock (“Jingle all the Way”). 4. The lights get bigger and brighter (“Christmas Vacation”). 5. Soon the two men are competing (“Jingle all the Way”) 6. Everything goes wrong. (“Christmas Vacation,” “Jingle all the Way,” “Christmas with the Kranks,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” etc) 7. In the end, the kindness of other neighbors helps save Christmas (“Christmas with the Kranks”).
There is not much new here, from the competition, to the big light display, to the wives loosing patience with their men and so on and so forth. However, there is a lesson of sorts about loosing sight of what is important when envy and competition get out of hand as well as a smattering of family values sprinkled into the mix.
The movies is mostly family friendly with the exception of the adolescent son of one family seeing the semi nude painting of the mother of the other family (Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth) and one disturbing scene where the two fathers are yelling mildly sexually harassing phrases at three scantily clad young women who turn out to be their daughters.
High point would be Kristin Chenoweth’s high notes as she sang “O Holy Night.” Low points would be Kristin Chenoweth’s cleavage and semi nude portrait. She did wear a cross throughout the movie but I doubt many noticed it as it was overshadowed – literally – by her overexposed breasts.
I sort of hesitate recommending this as family fare. It’s not bad, but there are some elements that I don’t think are appropriate for adolescents. Mediocre family values in a mediocre movie.
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