Weekend Forecast for November 9-11, 2007

By Reagen Sulewski

November 9, 2007

Santa should never have tagged along with Vince on his journeys through the seedy underworld.

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If stores can start Christmas season six weeks early, then so can Hollywood. Yes, it's time for the annual "Wait, a Christmas movie already?" movie, and you know what – you complain, but you're gonna go see it anyway.

Fred Claus is attempting to walk a strange and difficult line. As a Christmas-themed film hoping to be a blockbuster, it has to be family-friendly. Yet it's also banking on the star power of Vince Vaughn, who's best known for some, let's say, ribald roles, and who is not switching up his basic movie persona as a fast-talking alpha-jerk for this film (but then: the PG rating means there's probably no repeat of the opening scene of Wedding Crashers).

Vaughn stars as the titular character, the lay-about brother of Santa (played with great casting by Paul Giamatti), who's never quite lived up to the golden boy of the family. After a run-in with the law that costs him his job and his girlfriend, he heads back home to the North Pole where sibling rivalry heats up once again, and Fred wrecks havoc in the Workshop in PG-rated fashion. They're trying to grab a couple of very disparate demographics with this film in families and the 20/30-something adults, and it'll be interesting to see just how well they can do it.

Elf is the obvious comparison for this film, with Will Ferrell cashing in on his comedy chops for a family comedy, to great success. It's seemingly impossible to fail with a family comedy lately, at least if you give it one recognizable star. See also the recent The Game Plan for a film doing much better than it had any reason to. Fred Claus doesn't look great, but it should be able to at least do well for this weekend, with around $32 million.


Among the recent films about terror or war, none have managed to make much of an impact at the box office. Lions For Lambs hopes that it can change that by amping up the marquee factor. Directed by and starring Robert Redford, it also includes in its cast Meryl Streep, Peter Perg, Derek Luke, and, oh right, Tom Cruise.

When two Army Rangers are trapped behind enemy lines on a covert mission in Afghanistan, it starts events in motion back home that could have national political significance. Cruise plays a young Senator that is sitting on some potentially Earth-shattering information, which he decides he must share with a TV journalist, played by Streep. Meanwhile, across the country, Redford's professor character, who taught the two Rangers, attempts to dissuade other students from making what he feels to be the same mistake. The three stories intertwine in unexpected ways, leading to a dramatic and profound effect on the world.

Lions For Lambs comes into theaters carrying the mantle of being an Important Film, which can sometimes work for box office, but more often than not leads to middling performance and Oscar nominations based on critical reception. See: Good Night, and Good Luck or The Insider. Unfortunately for Redford, this one's getting trashed by critics, and it's throwing under the Santa movie right now for reviews.

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