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Fred Claus (FS/WS/DVD)
Vince Vaugn and director David Dobkin, the team responsible for the hilarious Wedding Crashers, return to take on Christmas! When Santa Claus' little known, older brother, Fred (Vaughn--Wedding Crasher, The Break-Up), returns to the North Pole, the black sheep of the family manages to create comic chaos that almost destroys Christmas before finally proving that he isn't the loser that the younger Claus has always believed him to be.]]>
- Commentary by director David Dobkin
- Over 25 minutes of additional scenes
- Includes widescreen and full-screen editions
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The film is over loaded with special effects and not much else. It's not dark enough to be a black comedy and it's not sentimental enough to give you that classic holiday feeling. HO HO Hummmmmm!
Since it is the month of December it was a no brainier that I would have to get into some holiday films. I decided I would start this out with a new release from this month in the form of "Fred Claus", which is a really good film despite being a PG rated film [took me by surprise]. Don't get me wrong there are a lot of good PG rated films out there but one starring Vince Vaughn just seems weird at first. I bring that up because some reviews I have read say that Vince's performance was bad, mainly because he wasn't in R-Rated mode. I also wanted to do this one because I just went to see Vince's new film which is also a Christmas film, "Four Christmases" which was a really funny film.
On that note I must say that I really enjoyed this film although to be honest I knew I would because of the cast. It turns out that we really did not know everything about Santa after all, sure all the myths were true but we never knew about his big brother Fred. It seems that Fred is the exact opposite of his little bro and is actually a bitter person holding a lot of animosity towards Saint Nick. So after a not so good childhood between the two they go their separate ways and well you know what became of Nick, Fred on the other hand ended up quite different. If Santa is a giver [at least once a year] Fred is a taker, literally, he is a repo man. Fred is an unhappy man who only has one friend in a little kid named Sam, and a shaky relationship with his girlfriend Wanda. One day he gets into a little mishap with a gang of Santa's and ends up behind bars; it is here that he makes a deal with his brother about posting bail and also giving him a lot of cash. The deal is in order to get the cash he needs Fred must agree to come to the North Pole to visit his family and work for the cash at Santa's Shop.
The film really picks up here as not only is the family getting into it with each other but they are doing it in front of Clyde Northcut, a man who is there to shut Santa's operation down. So naturally Fred's being there only adds to the problems, especially since they are on a three strike rule by Clyde. I have to say that writers Jessie Nelson and Dan Fogelman have crafted a really heartfelt, warm and funny film that is much better then it gets credit for, come on any film with some "ninja action" secret service Elves is good in my book. These two along with director David Dobkin [who provides a good commentary for the film] have really done a good job of not only adding in and sticking to the mythos of Santa Claus but also making this film feel real up to date. Take for instance a scene were the family Claus call an intervention for the black sheep trouble child Fred, what other film has done that?
As far as the actors go everyone does an outstanding job and really make their characters seem real. Vince Vaughn [who co-produced this film along side 4 other producers one of which is Joel Silver] as usual shines as the troubled yet quick thinker who while bad will find his way to the light, his character really is a smart guy. He is a jerk but at the same time he is really a kind hearted guy, and Vaughn brings his character to life. Paul Giamatti is nothing short of brilliant as Nick Claus, he brings a lot of emotion to the character. You can see the stress he is under from Clyde come through in his face and you can see the pain in his eyes about how he feels about his relationship with his brother. Kevin Spacey is great as Clyde who is there to end Christmas, his scene with Vince about chopping down the bigger tree is brilliant and he truly is Superman [just watch the movie]. John Michael Higgins as Willie the head elf shines as Vince's best bud up at the pole, and Bobb'e J. Thompson as Sam is really good as is Ludacris as the Elf DJ, and Trevor Peacock is great not only as Papa Claus but also as the narrator.
But this film would not have been as good if the ladies were not up to par, and they all do wonderful jobs. My favorite actress of all time Kathy Bates is great as Mama Claus who just can't seem to treat her oldest as well as her youngest. Her tension with Nick's wife is really played well, and both actresses do great jobs. Speaking of Nick Claus's wife, Miranda Richardson plays Annette Claus wonderfully and her scenes laying it onto Fred for being a screw up are great. Elizabeth Banks plays Charlene who is Willie's love interest and she does a great job, Rachel Weisz does a great job as well playing Wanda Fred's girlfriend.
I would say that this is really a good film, just go into it wanted to have a good time and you will. Maybe I liked this film so much because it is the first Christmas related film I have watched this month or maybe it is because of the significance of this month. It may be because for the first time in years I sat down and watched a movie with my mom, step dad [both came down from Maryland], brother, sister [who came down with them two], grandparents, Aunt, Uncle, 2 year old cousin and my girl that I liked it so much, either way I was really entertained. I recommend this film to everyone reading this, especially during this month. It may not be the greatest Christmas movie ever but it was still very enjoyable. Kids will defiantly like it and adults should to, it is a great story full of out there, likeable, endearing characters. I had a great time watching a funny family movie with my family gathered round.
P.S. there are some deleted scenes.
Vince Vaughn, who is the Bill Murray of his generation, delivers an endearing performance, Paul Giamatti is, as always, brilliant, and the rest of the cast is very good. The plot is simple enough but the undercurrent of family relationships and how they can influence people throughout their life hit me hard. One last positive - the soundtrack is a wonderful mix of seasonal favorites old and new with the bonus of a haunting Silent Night by Sinead O'Connor (which just sent me over the teary edge) and the Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World medley by the Hawaiian singer whose name I can neither remember nor spell.
Fred Claus will not make you throw out It's A Wonderful Life or even Rudolph the Reindeer, but it is heartwarming and deserves to be judged before dismissed as yet another warmed over holiday leftover.
Sounds like it might be entertaining. Sadly, it's not. About the funniest scene is the sight gag when Fred tries to fit into an elf-sized bed. Then the viewer realizes that this same thing was done much more imaginatively by Vaughn's sometimes co-star Jon Favreau when he directed "Elf."
Arguably the worst movie I have seen this year - no make that this decade - it truly amazes me that crud like this can not only get green lighted, but actually attract some top stars. This unfunny Elf knock-off is just a huge waste of time. Hard to believe it was directed by the guy that brought the far funnier "Wedding Crashers" to the multiplex.
...a single woman with a child will be happier than a single woman who has a child and a man in her life
...a single woman and a single man living together is preferable to the two getting married to each other
...there is no such thing as naughty or nice. A child should be rewarded no matter what they do. If we feel they have done something wrong, then this is our own hangup. A child has a good reason to lie or steal. We just need to find out what that reason is.
...Christ is not a part of Christmas. In the film, there is a beautiful rendition of the Christmas carol, "Silent Night." However, one line from the song is cut. Can you guess which line? Yes, that's right..."Christ, the Savior is born. Christ, the Savior is born."
The only reasons I gave this film two stars were for the script and the acting.