Vaughn Looking hung over.Back in November 2006, Warner Brothers launched the teaser for their upcoming Christmas ’07 release Fred Claus. The trailer (view it here for a refresh) featured Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti enjoying some brotherly banter and a round of wet willies…and played great. The whole Vince Vaughn/Paul Giamiti living room riff-off felt clever, fun and refreshing.

Cut to July ’07. I’m not sure what happened since the teaser debut, but the latest trailer has deflated my initial expectations by taking the fun, clever and refreshing and sweatily man-handling them into a subserviant echo of films from Christmas past. Ninja Elves. Little Person-on-tall guy violence. Continued use of little people as Santa’s elves. Slapstick snowball to the face. It’s all here!

Nevertheless, Giamatti invokes a satisfied smile every time I see him perform, while Vaughn, despite some luster worn off his shtick, still delivers charm and snappy zingers with smarmy gusto.

It’s just the rest of the trailer that makes Fred Claus look dumb. Cheer with glee or let out a sigh of resignation right here.