Fred Claus (15)

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The Independent Culture

A film to be filed under "What Were They Thinking?", Fred Claus stars Vince Vaughn as Santa Claus's brother. Bitterly overshadowed by the fat man in the red suit (Paul Giamatti), Vaughn is planning to set up a betting shop in Chicago, but the only way he can raise the capital is to do some temping at the family business at the North Pole.

With those actors and that premise, Fred Claus should have been a riotous cross between Elf and Bad Santa, but David Dobkin, the director of Wedding Crashers, appears to have had such faith in Vaughn's ability to improvise gold out of the most leaden scene that he started filming before the script was finished. It's an overstuffed turkey. As well as the sibling rivalry, Dobkin shoves in the brothers' parents, an orphan boy, a trio of ninjas, a dubious romance between an elf and a sexy secretary who's twice his height and half his age, and an "efficiency expert" (Kevin Spacey) with the power to shut down Santa's workshop.

Rachel Weisz is on screen for just 10 minutes as Fred's long-suffering girlfriend, but in that time we learn that she's a cockney named Wanda Blinkowski who is a traffic warden in Chicago, but who dreams of visiting Paris. She'd need a film of her own to explain all that lot.

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