Critical Consensus: Fred Claus Fails to Spread Cheer; Lions Is Tame, P2 is Average Genre Fare
What are the critics saying about this week's movie crop?
Fred Claus hit theaters two weeks before Thanksgiving, hoping to spread some early Yuletide cheer. Unfortunately, the critics have made a list, checked it twice, and determined this one's a lump of coal. Vince Vaughn stars as Santa's no-good brother, a repo man who's lived in the shadow of St. Nick (Paul Giamatti); after a run-in with the law, Santa agrees to help his bro on the condition that he do some hard labor at the North Pole to help with the seasonal demand for toys. It's a pretty funny premise, and the cast includes such able thespians as Miranda Richardson, Kevin Spacey, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, and Rachel Weisz. But the pundits say Fred never settles on a workable tone, awkwardly vacillating between wacky slapstick and sappy sentiment. At 32 percent on the Tomatometer, 'tis not the season for Fred Claus.
Vaughn trains for the upcoming Breaking Away prequel.
Fred Claus isn't the only Christmas-themed movie in theaters this week. P2 is the story of a woman who's late to Christmas Eve dinner because she's tied up -- literally. In order to see what Santa has delivered for her this year, she must escape the clutches of an evil security guard. Some critics say P2 is much better than it sounds, a game of cinematic cat and mouse with a dark sense of humor. However, others say it's still essentially a genre exercise, and pretty gory to boot. P2 currently stands at 46 percent on the Tomatometer.
Also opening this week in limited release: the documentary Steal a Pencil for Me, about a strange love affair during the Holocaust, is at 100 percent on the Tomatometer; No Country for Old Men, a dark, tense crime film from the Coen Brothers, is at 89 percent (check out our review from Cannes here, and our feature on the Coens' filmography here); Holly, a drama about child prostitution in Vietnam, is at 86 percent; Note By Note, a documentary detailing the manufacture of a Steinway piano, is at 80 percent; War/Dance, a doc about a music festival in the midst of war-torn Uganda, is at 67 percent; and Nightmare Man, a horror flick about a woman being attacked by an evil spirit, is at 50 percent.
Recent Vince Vaughn Movies:
82% -- Into the Wild (2007)
33% -- The Break-Up (2006)
69% -- Thumbsucker (2005)
74% -- Wedding Crashers (2005)
29% -- Be Cool (2005)
Robert Redford-Directed Movies:
41% -- The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)
71% -- The Horse Whisperer (1998)
96% -- Quiz Show (1994)
78% -- A River Runs Through It (1992)
58% -- The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)
89% -- Ordinary People (1980)