Brothers are polar opposites

THE North Pole is slightly off its axis in the holiday comedy "Fred Claus," what with a DJ spinning tunes, an efficiency expert tracking workflow and the relatives looking for a handout.

Santa's (Paul Giamatti) family woes involve his older brother, Fred (Vince Vaughn), a Chicago-based repo man who gets in trouble with the law. After a life lived in the shadow of his younger, more successful, sibling, Fred Claus has to turn to Santa for help.

"Fred needs to borrow some money," says director David Dobkin. "Santa says, 'I'll lend you the money, but you have to work for it.' So it's all about how Fred turns the North Pole on its side."

Meanwhile, there's that efficiency expert (Kevin Spacey) poking around. "The North Pole isn't as efficient as it used to be," Dobkin says. "There's a threat he's going to shut it down. We use the iconography [of the North Pole] to launch into our dysfunctional-family drama."

Well, not exactly a drama. Not with Vaughn starring as the black sheep of the Claus clan. The movie, scheduled for release Nov. 9, marks the third collaboration between Dobkin and Vaughn after working on the 1998 dark comedy "Clay Pigeons" and the 2005 smash "Wedding Crashers."

"We tried to find something to do together" again, says Dobkin. "Luckily, this turned up."


-- Susan King

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