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Discuss this week's Joe Loves Crappy Movies here!

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Love crappy movies but are too ashamed to admit it? Are you a big Rob Schneider fan but you're tired of being burned? Not sure if you want to waste your money on the same old movie? That's why you have Joe.

Joe Loves Crappy Movies is by Joseph Dunn. Joe willingly goes to see the very worst that Hollywood has to offer. Whenever a crappy movie comes out Joe will be there to see it, make fun of it, and actually review it. Nothing is safe, and nothing is sacred. From the big budget action disasters to the low brow fart based comedies, to anything starring Martin Lawrence? Joe will tear it apart.

With each entry you'll get not only a comic poking fun at the movie, but also a detailed review. Joe's not educated in film or cinematography or acting, he's just a guy that draws comics and likes movies. So if you're looking for the everyman perspective and a little joke in comic form... you're in the right place.

Fred Claus

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, John Michael Higgins, Miranda Richardson, Rachel Weisz, Kathy Bates, Kevin Spacey, Elizabeth Banks, Ludacris

Directed by: David Dobkin

Warner Brothers Pictures

The Official Site of Fred Claus

Discuss Fred Claus on the boards!

Christmas themed, family friendly romp: take one.

Fred has always lived in the shadow of his little brother Nick. When Fred would manage to impress his parents or do a good deed, Nick would unknowingly outshine him at every turn making it near impossible for Fred to fulfill his promise to Nick of being the best older brother in the whole wide world. But it’s not his fault. Nick was a good kid, he was practically a saint!

When he actually became a saint and started dishing out toys globally and annually Fred’s life would change forever. You see, the lives of the immediate family of sainted figures freeze in time and Fred would spend the rest of eternity as a gruff, sarcastic, thirty-something, with an estranged family and a bad attitude.

The movie doesn’t cover it but life must have been bearable for the first few hundred years. Good looks, charm to spare. He was probably rolling in wenches. But that was, you know, before the whole “Santa as a symbol for the season” thing really took off. In modern times, when Christmas became a business, there would be a three month period where he wouldn’t be able to escape the billboards, commercials and carols all about his little brother. This is where we catch up with Fred where the holiday season has him ducking Christmas radio play, punching plastic law ornaments and giving “this is why Santa sucks” life lessons to the unfortunate kids that cross his path.

Fred is a modern man with big schemes, a disappointed girlfriend (the lovely Rachel Weisz whom I would’ve paid 10 more bucks to see for 5 more minuets) and problems taking responsibility for his own mistakes. When one of those mistakes lands him in jail he makes a call to his well-to-do brother up north who makes him a deal. Nick will help him out if Fred agrees to come to the North Pole and work of his debt in Santa’s workshop as the Christmas season quickly approaches.

Nice little set-up right? Especially with Vince Vaughn in the title role whose fast talking and natural charm set a great pace for the movie, particularly in the North Pole where his off-the-cuff remarks and back-handed comments hit the mark. An equally great casting fit was Paul Giamatti as Santa who was able to show us an over-worked icon under stress but still manage to give us the jolly optimism that the character needs. Putting two real talents in these critical roles paid off well.

But this movie has talent to spare with a great list of character actors taking advantage of their winter wonderland vacation. But it’s stuff we’ve all seen before. Elizabeth Banks has great legs, John Michael Higgins is quietly clever, Miranda Richardson is a woman that’s clearly in control. Would we expect anything less? I guess they’ve never played mythical creatures before, but with so much talent to go around I suppose I just wanted more time to see them sparkle.

Kevin Spacey manages to steal some of that shine as an efficiency inspector from the South Pole dead set on getting Santa fired. Of course his bumbling brother Fred makes for a good scapegoat as Spacey slowly takes down the toy factory from within. Santa’s stress level, Fred’s indifference and Spacey’s manipulation all lead towards a finally that will make you believe in Christmas again!

Sort of !

I won’t spoil the specifics of the story for you but the movies big message about the holiday spirit is clumsily told. At a glance you might think they were saying, “The most important thing about the holidays is getting stuff” when the true sentiment gets buried in a length, though admittedly wildly entertaining, Christmas Eve toy distribution sequence. That message is simple – no kid is naughty, maybe they’re just a little angry or could use someone to talk to, but the idea blacklisting a kid for being a kid isn’t a good decision.

That makes sense. The whole naughty/nice thing was invented as a way of curbing your child’s behavior. The threat of coal over toys is something no kid should have to deal with and Fred Claus thinks we’d be better off talking things through instead of threatening, bribing and bartering. He is of course a childless bachelor.

Rating: 6 out of 10 - Fred Claus is a fun movie with a unique perspective on the holiday season even if it is very much a movie for kids. Fans of Vaughn’s raw style will be able to enjoy his classy double talk but may miss the cursing and innuendo that is usually peppered throughout. As an adult I was able to enjoy the films themes on sibling relationships (including a “Siblings Anonymous” meeting with some unexpected guest stars), favoritism among parents (It’s all momma Claus’ fault) and, most entertainingly, the mythology of Santa Claus.

I really loved seeing Fred and Nick as young kids. It was a great way to introduce us into their unique relationship and gave us a back-story on this iconic figure of Santa, which we never really think that much about. It’s less inventive then Tim Allen being legally bound to the job because he stole some dude’s jacket, but you can’t hate a proper back-story.

Director David Dobkin, most famous for going R and going hard with movies like Wedding Crashers, Clay Pigeons, has done a fine job on his first attempt at something accessible to all ages. Even if he plays up to the kids a little more than the adults, there’s a good time to be had here.

Oh, who knows for sure? I will say that it being a Christmas movie isn’t working in its favor. How often do you really want to watch a Christmas movie during the year other than in the month of December? (This from the guy that watched two in theaters this weekend and plans to see at least one more before Thanksgiving.) Truthfully it’s unlikely I’ll ever pick this up. I liked the story enough and the emotion was loud and clear, but at the end of the day – this is just a kid’s movie, with the target laughs and overall appeal to match.

Fred Claus is quite light on the dwarf tossing, though Fred does throw one into a raving crowd, wrestle on two occasions with Santa’s Secret Service, and slow dance with another (don’t ask). But for the most part the little people in Fred Claus are treated respectfully. Though I’m not sure how they would have reacted to two (Jesus, what’s the correct term?) “average sized people” (?) being digitally put into Elvin roles.

John Michael Higgins, and Ludacris are featured as two of Santa’s elves. The right-hand-elf and workshop DJ (I wish I had a workshop DJ) respectively. Now, this feat seems to have been done in two different ways. Either with a separately shot full body performance placed into an existing background (as was done with The Lord of the Rings films) or a separately shot head performance superimposed onto a little person stand-in. The effect works and it doesn’t work. It’s amazing how far we’ve come with special effects over the years, but for every believable shot, there are at least 5 or 6 that stand out like a sore thumb. I couldn’t help but wonder if there weren’t little people actor’s that would fit the part just as well. Is it really worth all the time and effort to digitally put Ludacris’ head into a shot just because it would be funny if he were a Elvin DJ?

I suppose it could be worse. They could have had him shuffling along on his knees with little booties sewn to the caps. Actually… change Ludacris to Coolio and that would be funny.

Alvin and the Chipmunks (extended trailer) - If you can get the poop eating teaser trailer out of your mind then the latest extended trailer for Alvin and the Chipmunks might seem promising. The good news is that the movie appears to have a plot and that when Simon and Theodore manage to get a word in between Alvin’s bursts of annoyance, these CGI’d critters can actually be pretty cute.

This latest trailer reveals the details of how Dave (Jason Lee) and the Chipmunks come together. How they find each other and how they barter a co-existence. It’s not as simple as, “man goes down to a pet store” but more along the lines of Dave saying, “If you sing my songs and get me work, I’ll let you crash at my house.” More manager than father figure? We’ll see, but at least they’re trying to make sense of the awkward pairing of starving artist and talking, triplet, tree rats.

That’s right, I said “cute” in the first paragraph, and it’s true. As I watched along I was happy to see some semblance of a structure developing in the story and pleased by the CGI work blending into the background nicely, but the movie hit my “cute” button once a frightened Theodore asks if he can sleep in bed with Dave. I think that 4 seconds have convinced me that there might be something to Alvin and the Chipmunks after all. I’m a sucker for adorable animals I suppose.

Hey did you guys know that my uncle Mitch is in a band? I’m just as shocked as you are because they’re not only really good, but Mitchell is doing the singing! Take a swig of The Tigermilks!

Today is Monday and that means there will be a brand new The Triple Feature tonight! (10 pm EST) On the show we’ll be chatting about the current releases including Fred Claus and P2, which I somehow stumbled into. But the focus of the evening will go to the Coen Brothers. With the release of their latest, No Country for Old Men it looks like one of the most dangerous duos of directing are back in the form of blowing our minds. But for fun we’ll be taking a look at our favorites of their complete resume.

So if you’ve got a definitive opinion about The Big Lebowski or a great wood-chipper story to rival Fargo’s then tune in and share your thoughts!

Chow for now!

Live Journal/Myspace/Rotten Tomatoes/Buzz Comix/Top Web Comics/Comics on the Ipod/The Webcomics List/Online Comics/Wikipedia/Comixpedia/JLCM Map!

Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - The Introduction

Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.

First Appearance - Fever Pitch

Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.

First Appearance - V for Vendetta

Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison

Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.

First Appearance - 300

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe

Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.

First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet

Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.

First Appearance - Four Brothers

Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.

First Appearance - Ultraviolet

Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.

First Appearance - The Producers

Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!

Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?

First Appearance - Saw IV

Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V