Fred Claus The post-pumpkin, pre-Christmas family comedy Fred Claus is constructed like a rattling Santa sack of stocking stuffers, most of them plastic, doled out with little… Fred Claus The post-pumpkin, pre-Christmas family comedy Fred Claus is constructed like a rattling Santa sack of stocking stuffers, most of them plastic, doled out with little… 2007-11-09 PG PT107M Comedy Paul Giamatti Vince Vaughn Warner Bros.
Movie Review

Fred Claus (2007)

MPAA Rating: PG
Vince Vaughn, Fred Claus | BAD SANTA Vince Vaughn is a wheel pain in Fred Claus , a spiritless holiday comedy with surprisingly few laughs
Image credit: Jaap Buitendji
BAD SANTA Vince Vaughn is a wheel pain in Fred Claus, a spiritless holiday comedy with surprisingly few laughs
EW's GRADE
C-

Details Release Date: Nov 09, 2007; Rated: PG; Length: 107 Minutes; Genre: Comedy; With: Paul Giamatti and Vince Vaughn; Distributor: Warner Bros.

The post-pumpkin, pre-Christmas family comedy Fred Claus is constructed like a rattling Santa sack of stocking stuffers, most of them plastic, doled out with little confidence about what adults want from a jingle-bell comedy (we want Elf!), and even less about what engages a kid (they want Elf!).

So here's a machine-stitched lesson on the importance of being there for one's sibling, offered with familiar huckster patter by Vince Vaughn as a firstborn son — he's Fred — who's sick and tired of trailing in the shadow of his younger brother (Paul Giamatti), best known by his superstar handle, Santa Claus. Here's some chaste courtship shenanigans acted out by an elf (John Michael Higgins) and Santa's very special helper-with-cleavage (Elizabeth Banks). Here's a trendy homily about the Oprah-given right of every kid to be registered on Santa's list as nice and not naughty. And here, retro as a Slinky, is Kevin Spacey doing a classic turn as a sharky, corporate Grinch type.

The surprisingly puny haul comes from the jolly, usually sparkling comedy workshop of David Dobkin, who directed Wedding Crashers, and Dan Fogelman, who wrote Cars — two great movies that both make better stocking stuffers. C

Originally posted Nov 05, 2007 Published in issue #964 Nov 16, 2007 Order article reprints