A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that kids may actually be the only ones interested in seeing this predictable, mean-spirited, slapstick-heavy Christmas movie. It's filled with sexual innuendo, bad behavior, and grown-ups acting like kids (worse than kids, actually). With so many other, better options out there, don't bother.
What's the story?
Steve Finch (Matthew Broderick) is a nice-guy optometrist, living in the picturesque town of Cloverdale, Mass., with his loving wife Kelly (Kristin Davis), rebellious teen daughter Madison (Alia Shawkat), and 10-year-old son, Carter (Dylan Blue). Steve's known as "The Christmas Guy". He loves the holiday and goes all out every year -- decorating, caroling, tree-trimming, and organizing the annual family photo (with matching sweaters, of course). Everything is peachy-keen in Steve's neat, organized world, complete with a wall calendar to keep things on track. Then Buddy Hall (Danny DeVito) moves into the house across the street with his lovely wife Tia (Kristin Chenoweth) and shapely daughters Ashley and Emily (real-life twins Sabrina and Kelly Aldridge of 8th and Ocean). Buddy's a likeable guy, but he feels invisible, which makes him want to put up a mammoth Christmas display bright enough to see from outer space. It's his chance to be somebody. So up go thousands of lights, giant Santas, snowmen, synchronized music, and even live animals -- including a donkey, camel, cow, and sheep. It's all too much for Steve, who feels threatened and fights back, enlisting help from his son to thwart Buddy's efforts.
Is it any good?
There's no doubt that Broderick and DeVito are formidable actors, but they aren't given much to work with here. The movie deteriorates into a farce of slapstick humor and crude humor, as Steve and Buddy's competitive nature comes to a head in a predictable finale about discovering the true meaning of Christmas, blah blah blah. On the "why bother?" holiday movie scale, it ranks right down there with Surviving Christmas.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what's important during the holidays -- spending time with friends and family, or trying to outdo the neighbors. If Buddy felt "invisible," what could Steve have done to make him feel better? Likewise, what better choice could Buddy have made to be "somebody"? Who are the real grown-ups in this movie? Why do so many Christmas movies focus on themes like competition and materialism? Does that accurately reflect society's perspective on the holiday?
- In theaters: November 21, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: November 6, 2007
- Cast: Danny DeVito, Kristin Davis, Matthew Broderick
- Director: John Whitesell
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Holidays
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some crude and suggestive humor, and for language.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.