Mark Reviews Movies


1 Star (out of 4)

Director: David Dobkin

Cast: Vnce Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Spacey, John Michael Higgins, Miranda Richardson, Rachel Weisz, Katy Bates, Trevor Peacock, Ludacris, Elizabeth Banks

MPAA Rating: PG (for mild language and some rude humor)

Running Time: 1:56

Release Date: 11/9/07

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Capsule review by Mark Dujsik

Someone save us from high-concept comedies with no imagination. The concept of Fred Claus is good-for-nothing Fred (Vince Vaughn) needs to borrow money from his younger brother Santa (Paul Giamatti) to open an off-track betting establishment. The jolly, old elf gives him a deal: Work at the North Pole during the busy holiday crunch, and the money is his. There are no laughs from the material, which wants to be edgy but can't go for broke because it's too busy being a trifling piece of holiday cheer but without the cheer. Rachel Weisz and Kevin Spacey are going for paychecks as Fred's girlfriend and a holiday efficiency inspector respectively (Spacey's monologue about wanting a Superman cape as a kid is downright baffling). The only amusing scene takes place at a sibling's not-so-anonymous meeting featuring George Clinton, Frank Stallone, and Stephen Baldwin (it's a sign of how bad this is that during the extended coda telling us what happens to all the characters I only wanted to know what becomes of Baldwin). The special effects are cheap (the seizure-inducing, digitally photo-shopped elves look like they're about jump out of their digital frames), but the design team should have been paid more for having their creations so abused. The design of the colorful North Pole is so good one wants to look at it, but we're too busy gawking at the laughless mess in the foreground.

Copyright 2007 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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