Reviewer's grade: C
Swinging for the bleachers, Vince Vaughn hits a shaky single with this holiday-centered family comedy about Santa's (Paul Giamatti) older brother. After a millennium of being the "other" sibling, Fred is tired of having his Claus removed. Needing cash to open a betting parlor, Fred heads north to help Santa meet the growing world's demand for presents. Santa also is being scrutinized by an efficiency expert (Kevin Spacey) who wants to outsource manufacturing to the South Pole. That's cold.
Director David Dobkin can't decide whether this is a satire suitable for smart kids or a dumb kiddie picture that needs the occasional boost of adult humor to keep the parents from going to sleep. The premise is amusing, but Dan Fogelman's dialogue is flat-out forgettable. The supporting cast rocks, but has little to do.
This is Vaughn's flick and he doesn't seem to want to share much of it, even with Giamatti. Making Christmas movies is tougher than it looks. It's hard out here for a ho (ho, ho). PG