Let me just start off by saying, I actually really like Vince Vaughn. But for some reason, the airbrushed, "kinder and gentler" Vaughn in the four new posters for the comedy Fred Claus is just creeping me out. The story centers on Vaughn as the no-goodnik brother of the Santa Claus, who tries to mend some familial rifts by helping out with the family business. Paul Giamatti plays the big guy in red, with Vaughn (obviously) as the black sheep in the family. The cast also includes Rachel Weisz, Miranda Richardson, and Kevin Spacey. Claus was directed by The Wedding Crashers', David Dobkin from a script by Dan Fogelman, and this is Dobkin's third film with Vaughn; their working relationship began back in 1998 with the black comedy Clay Pigeons, so they seem to enjoy working with each other.

Claus is set for release on November 9th, sandwiched between a couple of other high-profile family films -- Jerry Seinfield's Bee Movie, and Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium starring Natalie Portman and Dustin Hoffman. Last November, Erik had given us news of the teaser for Claus, and I will admit, it looked like it had the potential to be pretty funny. There were no actual scenes from the film mind you, but the deadpan shtick that Vaughn and Giamatti provided seemed like it might be an antidote to the toothless comedy of most holiday movies. Combined with the solid cast, and Vaughn and Dobkin's track record, I'm thinking maybe this won't be another lame holiday offering. Unfortunately, the elf/ninja joke showcased in one poster also has me thinking otherwise.