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Trailer Blazer: 'Fred Claus,' 'Get Smart'

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Two new trailers for you, PopWatchers: Fred Claus and Get Smart.One question: Are Vince Vaughn and Steve Carell really going to pull a WillFerrell and become unfunny shtick actors in big-budget Hollywood comedies? (You could argue that they already have, but I don’t think they’ve quite reached Ferrell levels of overexposure.)

Let’s start with Fred Claus, which immediately begs another question: Do we really need another bawdy reimagining of theclassic Santa tale? In my mind ErnestSaves Christmas put the genre to bed back in 1988, but since then the processionhas been endless: Bad Santa, Elf, JingleAll the Way, The Santa Clause,etc. Some of those movies were pretty funny, but even Mozart knew that you can onlyhave so many variations on a theme before it’s time to find a new movement.

The conceit of Fred Claus is pretty simple: Vince Vaughn plays Santa’s roguish older brother — theoutcast of the Christmas-card perfect Claus family — who returns to HQ (aheavily CGI-ed North Pole) and uses his sarcastic charm to snake his way backinto the family business. Paul Giamatti actually seems pretty good as Santa,but Wedding Crashers director DavidDobkin clearly thinks that Vaughn can carry a comedy solo. (Owen Wilson did itdefinitively with You, Me, and Dupree,so why can’t he!?) Things eventually get out of hand, and a calculating KevinSpacey — who appears to head up some sort of evil mega-corporation thatcontrols childhood myths — threatens to close up the shop. Like a goodChristmas stocking, it’s the simple pleasures that make this trailer bearable:the ridiculousness of Ludacris playing an elf, for example. With a few eggnogsbefore, during, and after, this could actually be ok. Just don’t hold the rum.

Get Smart‘s teaser keepsits gifts slightly more guarded — perhaps because it doesn’t have many? All wesee of the film — based on the 1960’s TV satire of secret agent genre — isthree examples of the uncouth Maxwell Smart (Carell) doing a bumbling JamesBond impression and then standing around looking silly. What we are promised,however, is an interesting on-screen lineup: Anne Hathaway, Alan Arkin,Terrence Stamp, The Rock, Masi Oka, and Ken Davitian (of Borat naked-wrestling fame).

So what’s the verdict, PopWatchers? Can Vaughn conquer theChristmas box office? Will Get Smartmake amends for Carell’s Evan Almightymisstep?  The message boards await your passionate response.