Movie scene where an incompetent dad burns the family house
December 8, 2010 1:24 PM   Subscribe

Name-that-movie time! Bumbling dad switches on over-the-top Christmas lights, causing the house to go up in flames and massive disappointment. A colleague and I were discussing Christmas movies and we both thought of this scene but we can't remember the movie it came from. It's probably a well-known US comedy (like Home Alone or Honey I shrunk the kids) from the 1980-1990s. This should be a piece of cake but my Google/IMDb/Tvtropes-fu fails me.
posted by elgilito to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sounds like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, minus the house going up in flames.
posted by coupdefoudre at 1:27 PM on December 8, 2010

Sounds kind of like the tree lighting scene in A Christmas Story, but the house doesn't go up in flames.
posted by cog_nate at 1:27 PM on December 8, 2010

Or in A Christmas Story when they plug in the leg lamp -- the outlet catches on fire briefly.
posted by cog_nate at 1:28 PM on December 8, 2010

The scene I'm thinking of...
posted by coupdefoudre at 1:29 PM on December 8, 2010

Much more recent, but any chance it was Deck the Halls?
posted by royalsong at 1:33 PM on December 8, 2010

A Christmas Vacation came up a lot in my searches but this movie (and Chevy Chase) is unknown where I live. Ditto for Deck the halls. The POV in the Christmas vacation is very similar though. Bumbling dad is in the street in front of the house showing the kid(s) the power switch and the big cable leading to the lighting setup, he turns on the power on and WOOSH, aerial POV of the house in flames.
posted by elgilito at 1:40 PM on December 8, 2010

Tim Allen in Christmas with the Kranks?
posted by PorcineWithMe at 1:46 PM on December 8, 2010

Hmmm. One of the "Santa Clause" movies with Tim Allen?
posted by Melismata at 1:46 PM on December 8, 2010

Or an episode of his "Home Improvement"?
posted by Rash at 1:50 PM on December 8, 2010

For some reason, Jingle All The Way came to mind...but I am not sure that's right. I remember there was a movie where the neighbors were competing for the best Christmas spirit and something like this happened but I can't remember specifically which one it was.
posted by thorny at 2:10 PM on December 8, 2010

That rings a bell to me. If it's the one I'm thinking of, it wasn't a Christmas movie per se -- it was a sort of Rival Neighbors movie with a Christmas scene in it. But I can't think of the name either.
posted by steambadger at 2:13 PM on December 8, 2010

It's not Tim Allen for sure (never saw his work except Toy Story and Galaxy Quest). Jingle all the way is a serious candidate but it does not seem to feature such a scene.

I remember there was a movie where the neighbors were competing for the best Christmas spirit
In fact, part of my mind tells me that the over-the-top lights were there because to the father wanted to take part in such a competition, but I wasn't sure.
posted by elgilito at 2:19 PM on December 8, 2010

Seconding "Home Improvement". Tim was in a couple of Christmas lighting contests and of course he is prone to accidents. I recall a scene in which they could see the Christmas lights from a plane.
posted by littlesq at 2:21 PM on December 8, 2010

I'm remembering the scene you're talking about too, but I remember it from TV not a movie. I'm sorry I can't be more help.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:27 PM on December 8, 2010

It's not a movie and it's not from the 80's/90's, but I was also thinking of an episode of "Malcolm in the Middle" in which the father, Hal, is in competition with a neighbor for best Christmas decoration. Every year Hal keeps losing, so he decides to celebrate Pearl harbor day instead. Neighbor copies him, does a much more elaborate theme and Hals decorations end up catching on fire.
posted by littlesq at 2:31 PM on December 8, 2010

Embarrased to put this up, but, Have Yourself a Goofy Little Christmas? Though you'd probably remember if you were thinking of a cartoon, and this has to be a common trope.
posted by teragram at 3:13 PM on December 8, 2010

Deck The Halls (so says my awesome 16 year old niece).
posted by LuckySeven~ at 4:35 PM on December 8, 2010

Deck the Halls (but it's from 2006)
posted by Jurate at 4:47 PM on December 8, 2010

[ouch Lucky, could it be spent 12+ minutes trying to remember..]
posted by Jurate at 4:49 PM on December 8, 2010

LOL, Jurate. I remembered the scene very clearly, but not the title, so I had to consult someone with a much higher tolerance for recollecting shitty movies.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 4:54 PM on December 8, 2010

Unfortunately, it's not Deck the halls. I've never seen it and from what I gather the fire is caused by fireworks, not by a power surge. Amusingly, there's a question on the IMDb board for Deck the halls that is similar to mine and still unanswered.
I don't rule out the possibility that the scene comes from a cartoon (Homer Simpson would be the perfect culprit, or the fathers in Family Guy and American Dad) but I'm drawing a blank there too.
posted by elgilito at 1:25 AM on December 9, 2010

Christmas Lights?

Don't know if there's a house burning down in the scene.

There's also what is effectively the same movie reinvented out this year called Battle of the Bulbs.
posted by zizzle at 6:50 AM on December 9, 2010

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