Oh dear. It's that time of the year again. 'Tis the season of goodwill to all men and time to let no indignities be spared to make a Christmas buck out of them. There are good Christmas films - in recent times, Tim Burton's 'The Nightmare Before Christmas', 'Elf' with Will Ferrell and Terry Zwigoff's irreverent 'Bad Santa' spring to mind - and bad Christmas films (try to avoid 'Christmas with the Kranks', 'Surviving Christmas', and 'Jingle All the Way'). With no redeeming graces, 'Deck The Halls' fits firmly into the last category. 

A great cast - old comedy hands Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick, together with the sweet Kristin Davis and sassy Kristin Chenoweth - is sold down the river with a pointless and ridiculous plot. Broderick plays uptight small town optometrist Steve Finch; DeVito his nightmarish neighbour, car salesman Buddy Hall. Being Christmas time, it's the traditional versus the tacky and Buddy shreds Steve's seasonal nerves with his OTT light-covered house. Buddy is a man on a mission - he wants his house to be seen from outer space - and the attention that he gets from the media and townsfolk encourages him to greater heights of lunacy, while it drives his neighbour to deeper depths of dementia.

With risible dialogue, sad gags and stale set pieces - if someone starts firing fireworks at their neighbour's house it's a dead cert that they're going to get the worst of it - this is an avoid-at-all-costs event. Any film which, as its sentimental centre, has a Christmas carol-singing scene illuminated by mobile phones really doesn't deserve an audience.

Caroline Hennessy