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Fred Claus

Bad Santa ripoff
By ALICIA POTTER  |  November 8, 2007
1.5 1.5 Stars

VIDEO: Watch the trailer for Fred Claus.

Director David Dobkin’s tortured Bad Santa ripoff proves no gift to Vince Vaughn. He rants and pleads as yet another darty-eyed motormouth — this time, the black-sheep brother of St. Nick. Desperate for dough, Fred sleds off to the North Pole to toil for the fat guy (Paul Giamatti, thankful to hide behind a beard), just as a malevolent efficiency expert (Kevin Spacey) arrives. The friction between Vaughn’s coiled machismo and everyone else’s anal-retentiveness produces zero surprises. (Elfin upheaval! Snowy slapstick!) Moreover, the indulgently uneven tone neuters Vaughn, and he’s misplaced (and unfunny) boogeying with Santa’s helpers, spouting goop about self-esteem, and healing boyhood hurts. Dobkin even sucks the humor from the film’s lone absurdity: a cameo-studded 12-step meeting. As for infusing the ol’ ho-ho-ho, the most Christmasy moments for this reviewer arose whenever a nearby critic groaned, “Oh Christ!” 114 Minutes | Boston Common + Fenway + Fresh Pond + Chestnut Hill + Suburbs
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