Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Fred Claus (2007)


Four years ago Elf came along and showed that a big-name actor, the right cast, and the right intentions could result in a timeless Christmas movie meant to make kids and their parents smile. Fred Claus has shown that given a star-studded cast, a putrid script, and three weeks, Hollywood can put Christmas presents under a few actors and some cast members' trees. Three weeks may be generous; it looks like it took about a week to make this film. The joke is on the audience here though, as the film is a solid thirty to forty minutes in before the first joke that even elicits a smirk comes across the screen. Vince Vaughn, as Santa's delinquent brother Fred, got paid for being himself, which after ten years isn't so funny anymore. While other high-profile comedians such as Will Ferrell and Steve Carell have shown great diversity and have achieved success across multiple genres, Vaughn is still playing the same character that made him a star in Swingers. Paul Giamatti does play a respectable Santa Claus, but the script is so typical and unfunny that his performance it doesn't matter. Rachel Weisz and Kathy Bates are irrelevant in throwaway roles that someone else could have played for millions less, and Kevin Spacey is surprisingly disappointing in a role you would expect an actor of his caliber to avoid. The plot can be predicted twenty minutes in advance by a 4 year-old on the nastiest Sour Patch Kids sugar high, and is borderline painful for adults. There is nothing clever, witty, or original in Fred Claus, which is based on a premise that had some potential. It is possible to make a family Christmas movie that becomes a staple of the holiday season years after it was made, and it is possible to rob parents of a few hard-earned dollars that could go toward little Bobby's Playstation 3.

Good For: Vince Vaughn fans

Bad For: anyone 3 years of age or older, people who like to laugh at funny jokes

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