Saturday, December 12, 2009

FX Channel Trashes Xmas

For some reason the FX Channel has decided to run and rerun, ad nauseum, one of the worst movies ever made: Deck The Halls, staring Mathew Broderick and Danny DeVito (2006).

I wouldn’t bother to comment, except that in addition to being awful, the ethical undertones of the movie are despicable. FX is shoveling out moral trash. No wonder our society stinks.

Maybe FX is intentionally trying to ruin the minds of TV viewers. The Wikipedia commentary brings more of a chuckle than the movie, supposedly a comedy. Here is the entire critique:

“Critics across the board have widely panned the movie. It received a 6% rotten rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel named it "A leaden slice of fruitcake, with about as much nutritional value," and concluding that "it's not worth working up a good hate over". Stephen Hunter remarked "I literally didn't count a single laugh in the whole aimless schlep," and suggested that the movie should've been named Dreck the Halls instead. Michael Medved named it the "Worst Movie of 2006." Finally, Richard Roeper, co-host of the television show Ebert & Roeper, wrote:

"You cannot believe how excruciatingly awful this movie is. It is bad in a way that will cause unfortunate viewers to huddle in the lobby afterward, hugging in small groups, consoling one another with the knowledge that it's over, it's over -- thank God, it's over. [...] Compared to the honest hard labor performed by tens of millions of Americans every day, a film critic's job is like a winning lottery ticket. But there IS work involved, and it can be painful -- and the next time someone tells me I have the best job in the world, I'm going to grab them by the ear, fourth-grade-teacher-in-1966-style, and drag them to see Deck the Halls."


What is wrong with FX, vomiting out this bile over and over? In addition, Wiki points out that the film has been nominated for three Golden Raspberry Awards:

(1) Worst Excuse For Family Entertainment

(2) Worse Supporting Actor (Danny DeVito)

(3) Worst Supporting Actress (Kristin Chenoweth)

So, again I ask, WHY is FX pouring this mess all over the airwaves like diarrhea? It’s either a conspiracy to dumb people down, or a way for the network to save money by purchasing the rights to the lowest grade of celluloid possible.

In either case, respect for the public is entirely lacking. Someone needs to send the Ghosts of Christmas to FX headquarters and scare some warmth into the Scrooges working there.

Ethical Commentary

The Wiki entry doesn't deal with the ethical idiocy of the film, so here I go.

The basic plot is that Buddy (DeVito) and his family move into a new neighborhood where Buddy gets upset because the house of his neighbor, Steve (Broderick) is bigger. That’s the catalyst for a neurotic feud that reduces everyone around the two men to pawns in their astoundingly immature game.

Never mind that both domiciles are big enough to comfortably house the starving population of a village in Africa. No. DeVito, exposing vast insecurity over his ‘little’ house, (and, it is insinuated, his little body) decides he will light up the sky with so many Xmas lights that his petite castle will intrude into outer space.

Yes, it's that stereotype of the fragile male ego: Buddy is pathetic enough to want to shine as brightly as god, because he sees himself as inferior.

Throughout the movie, you wait for some criticism of this ridiculous toddler show to appear in the script: Isn’t it a waste of energy to turn your house into a glowing poster child for global warming? Isn’t it wrong to seek approval by heaping on shallow mindless glitz?

The criticism never comes. About thirty minutes into this monster, you realize that Deck The Halls itself is trying to seek approval through shallow mindless glitz.

In terms of virtues like green living, empathy, modesty and moderation, the movie is educational poison. It promotes, in contrast, a rather devilish code: materialism, narcissism, and egomaniacal competition. You know, all those things that the major religions say are wrong.

If only that were the extent of the folly--but no. The producers have to make sure they insult women by making Steve and Buddy's wives some of the most docile and dull helpmeets ever to grace the screen.

Buddy’s better half is a blatant cliche of the clueless blonde. Steve’s brunette is supposedly smart but stays at home, tends to bland children, and pampers her ridiculously self-absorbed husband. She's fixated on her cookbook and gets nary an intelligent line.

In addition to the sexism, Deck the Halls wins a tarnished trophy for racism, never once permitting a peep at a non-white face. This despite the fact that sizeable crowds gather in front of Buddy’s house to ooh at his garish light displays like enthralled zombies.

Caveat: I may have missed the token exotic physiognomy in the crowds; but it sure looked like pure Wonder Bread to me.

Although both Steve and Buddy are as self-focused as Homer Simpson (though even less caring toward their families), Buddy descends to a nadir of conduct worthy of psychopathy. He commits several horrible crimes, including chopping down the town Christmas tree, and committing felony fraud by forging Steve’s signature to buy a new car. This criminally obtained vehicle is presented to Steve as a “gift.”

Unsurprisingly, the stolen good is a gas-guzzling mammoth of an SUV. Buddy explains with obvious relish that it has all the extras. Deck the Halls doubles as a commercial for eco-unfriendly vehicles of the most obese sort, the only worse guzzler being Buddy’s house, which swills enough wattage to light up Miami.

Of course, Buddy is secretly tapping into Steve's electricity to pay for the eye-searing show. There's a good moral lesson for ya!

Buddy doesn't show any remorse for stealing, lying, vandalizing and cheating until his wife gets huffy after he pawns her cherished family heirloom and confesses he lost his job. Once he returns the heirloom, his spouse reverts to gushing approval.

What a gimmick. Steal your wife’s heirloom, lie about it, then give it back and become her hero. Maybe the subtitle of this flick should be Codependency City.

At the end, the viewer is just dying for some kind of redeeming feature. Maybe Santa will show up and lambaste Buddy and Steve’s horrendous worldview of consume, bicker, and sabotage.

But no Deus ex Machina arrives to mitigate this nightmare.

Buddy’s house succeeds, at the finale, in being visible from outer space while hundreds of anglo zombies party in celebration. With emotional depth worthy of guppies, Steve and Buddy shake hands and start over, as if nothing they had done affected anyone else or made an impression in their own insensitive minds.

It’s poor entertainment, for sure. Much worse, FX knew. AND FX decided to air this crap-heap anyway.

What a major failure in media leadership. Does FX care about what they broadcast? Or is it simply about pinching pennies at the expense of decency?


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