Fred Claus

Rated 1.0

Did you know that Santa (Paul Giamatti) has an older brother Fred (Vince Vaughn), and that Fred is a sleazeball who resents his sibling’s goodness? Here’s the newest entry in that curdled genre, the I-Hate-Christmas movie. The pattern is familiar by now: a petty, mean-spirited setup, then an “uplifting” ending that feels forced and phony—suggesting that the group-hug finale is just for the sake of formula, while the sour, unpleasant early scenes are where the filmmakers’ real sympathies lie (see such earlier examples as Jingle All the Way, Christmas with the Kranks and Deck the Halls). This one, directed by David Dobkin and written by Dan Fogelman and Jessie Nelson, has the same cynicism, the same ugly heart. The helpless cast includes Rachel Weisz, Kathy Bates, Miranda Richardson and Kevin Spacey.