xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
Know how a character in one movie can be so terrific, another movie is spun off just to take advantage? That happened with Ma and Pa Kettle, who had small roles in "The Egg and I," which led to their very own series. But enough of today's seminar on the history of cinema. What I'm wondering is whether a scene can inspire a spinoff.
I'm thinking of the best scene in "Fred Claus," which takes place at a 12-step support group for brothers of famous people. Maybe it's called Recovering Siblings Anonymous. Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn), who has suffered all of his life in the shadow of his beloved younger brother, Santa Claus, sits in the circle and shares. Also at the meeting are Roger Clinton, Frank Stallone and Stephen Baldwin, and I'm not spoiling a laugh, because it's what they say that is so funny.
I'm thinking, too bad Billy Carter didn't live to steal this movie. But there are plenty more brothers to go around. Neil Bush comes to mind. How about Clint Howard, although he's been doing well lately? Or Jeffrey Skilling of Enron, now serving 24 years while his brother Tom is a popular and respected Chicago weatherman? This could be a movie like the Fantastic Four, where the brothers form a team. Tom Skilling screws up the weather forecast at the North Pole after Clint Howard feeds him bad info from a garbled headset at Santa's Mission Control, and Neil Bush saves the day by arranging for an executive pardon.
If you at least chuckled during my pathetic attempt at humor, that's more than may happen during long stretches of "Fred Claus," which has apparently studied "Elf" and figured out everything that could have gone wrong with its fish-out-of-water Christmas fable. The movie begins centuries ago in the Black Forest, when Mr. and Mrs. Claus and their first son, Fred, welcome a new bundle of joy: Nicholas Claus. Fred vows he will be the bestest big brother little Nicky could ever hope for, but alas, Nicholas is such a paragon that you can't get over him, you can't get around him, and all Fred can do is go under him, in a bitter and undistinguished life. Think about it. What does Santa (Paul Giamatti) need with a brother? He's one-stop shopping.