Fred Claus/Four Christmases
We have a theory. It goes like this: at some point during the making of Wedding Crashers, Will Ferrell pulled Vince Vaughn aside and offered him a little bit of career advice — something along the lines of, “You know where the money is? Christmas movies. Elf made an assload of money—and then, the next year, it made money again.” And Vaughn stroked his big chin, and decided he would put together his own comic take on the North Pole. His eyes wandered across the set, and settled on director David Dobkin, and Fred Claus was born. This 2007 film sounds irresistible — Vaughn playing the no-good, underachieving brother of Santa (played by Paul Giamatti — great casting!), with Kevin Spacey pulling villain duty, and Rachel Weisz, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, and Kathy Bates rounding out the supporting cast. Only problem: it wasn’t funny, or charming, or sweet, or much of anything. Well, it was one thing: successful, grossing just shy of $100 million. So Vaughn went back to the well, churning out Four Christmases the very next year. Paired with Reese Witherspoon as an unmarried couple forced to visit both pairs of their divorced parents, the film squanders the opportunity for familial insight and holiday cheer (to say nothing of a cast than includes Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Jon Voight, Kristin Chenoweth, and Vaughn’s Swingers buddy Jon Favreau) for cheap slapstick and gross-out yuks. But once, again, cash registers rung ($163 million this time), so there’s probably nothing keeping Vaughn from returning to holiday movies — except, y’know, good sense and taste.