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Fred Claus

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I do not like Vince Vaughn. The uncouth, fast-talking wise guys he plays—despite having once made me chuckle—have worn thin. So a Christmas-themed movie featuring one of Vaughn's same old characters would be handicapped before I even pressed play.

Once upon a time, there were two boys. One was really sweet and grew up to be Nicholas "Santa" Claus (Paul Giamatti, Sideways); the other simply subsided as his deadbeat older brother, Fred (Vaughn, Dodgeball). Ageless since Nick's canonization hundreds of years earlier, Fred desperately needs money to open a shop in modern day New York City. Nick offers the money in exchange for holiday help in his North Pole workshop. Unfortunately, Fred's arrival may prove ill-timed as an efficiency expert (Kevin Spacey, 21) arrives to try and shut down the whole operation.

Even without Vaughn's help, this would've been a hokey film. But as Vaughn's wisecracking is coupled with his otherwise overly talented costars Giamatti and Rachel Weisz (The Mummy) seeming completely out of their elements, the film founders.

In addition, the film features odd new technology. Instead of miniaturizing the elves, for many shots, actors' faces are placed over the faces of child bodies using computer graphics. The result is a little distracting.

Yes, Vaughn's attachment to this project immediately stunted my interest, but the entire premise fell flat. I would sooner recommend 2003's Elf as a cuter holiday title with more laughs despite being just as sophomoric.

This video courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117.