Who's in It:
Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Spacey, Miranda Richardson, John Michael Higgins, Rachel Weisz, Kathy Bates, Elizabeth Banks, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges
The Basics: Santa has a deadbeat brother named Fred who needs to borrow some money. Fred is put to work on "naughty/nice" file-clerk detail to earn it, just as a mean-spirited efficiency expert with an ax to grind (Spacey) arrives at the North Pole for an inspection that could, as you might have already guessed, put an end to Christmas. In other words, with the exception of the use of the song "Silent Night" as the soundtrack to some tearjerk machinations, the religious people are going to hate this one for de-Jesus-ing the holiday and focusing on pagan tree rituals, cookies, materialism and the romantic travails of elves.
What's the Deal? I can forgive it for being totally unfunny and disjointed, because I was endlessly fascinated by Giamatti's prosthetic Fat Hands. They're kind of mind-blowing all sausage-y, huge and pink. Whole scenes would pass, and I wouldn't have heard a word of dialogue because I was looking at those hands. Also, I enjoy seeing Vaughn being bonked on the head, which happens quite a bit and, even better, is always accompanied by lots of wacky sound effects going BOI-OI-OI-OI-OING! And finally, Ludacris has been digitally shrunk to play an elf deejay. How can you hate tiny Ludacris as an elf deejay? You just can't. But, yeah, you'll go long stretches without laughing.
Try to Get Inside the Mind of the Creative Team When They Throw This Sort of Stuff at You:
1. An anti-fat agenda that refuses to accept that, as a magical entity, Santa is exempt from stuff like heart disease and back problems. He is also depicted as suffering from acid reflux, sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction.
2. Rachel Weisz as the lovely meter maid. No backstory on that. She simply moved from England, land of universal healthcare, to work in the land of opportunity as a meter maid.
3. The unexplained presence of non-elf Elizabeth Banks as Santa's foxy yet strictly platonic helper, a plotline that feels chopped up for the sake of the PG rating.