I read many reviews from both Amazon and other print sources and the overwhelming reaction to Fred Claus was one of disappointment and worse. This won't be the first nor last time I am glad I looked into something for myself instead of trusting others. I don't know if it is my own sordid, pathetic personal life history or what, but this movie touched me and I left the movie emotionally moved and struck by how something advertised as your typical holiday comedy fare (read: stupid and infantile) could have delivered such a blow to my heart.
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.
on December 22, 2007
For the month or so as well as the past year or two, Hollywood has been releasing a string of disappointing or downright bad Christmas movies (The Golden Compass, Happy Feet, Deck the Halls). Thankfully, Fred Claus was a pleasant surprise.
I agree with some of the reviews. This is not the funniest Christmas movie that I have seen. Then again, it does not really need to be. Vaughn is funny overall. He was funnier than he was in 'The Break-Up' (not hard to do). It is generally a good story with a fair amount of good laughs along with a good, semi-touching story.
The other thing I do when I see a Christmas movie is ask "Do I want to add this to my movie collection when it comes out on DVD?" My answer is definitely yes.
In summary, it is fairly good movie. It is worth seeing. You decide after that if it is good enough to add to the home Christmas movie collection.
on November 22, 2008
Vince Vaughn makes an excellent jaded older brother of Santa Claus. Only Vince Vaughn can play such a sarcastic character and pull-off also having a heart of gold. It's similar to his character in Dodgeball, but with a little more bite. His clever wit alone makes this film worth seeing. Paul Giamatti makes an excellent St. Nick - a seemingly perfect and nice Santa Claus who is also very human (imagine a chubby Claus maniacally driving a snowmobile through Santa's village). The film is fresh for adults, while still being cute, and has a happy ending full of all the Christmas cheese one expects from a Christmas film. Overall the film is very satisfying. The true estimate of a good film lies in the number of watches it has, and this film has several.
on December 20, 2008
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.
on December 3, 2015
I have a few "favorite" Christmas time movies, and this is one of them. I have finally broken down and purchased the DVD. The movie is touching, as you see the Claus family interact, and how perceived trauma's of childhood can carry to adulthood (Vince and Kevin). Vince Vaughn is a master at these types of movies. Just look at his body of work. I consider him a younger Rob Reiner. And, if you need more incentive, in addition to Vince Vaughn, look at the cast! Paul Giamatti, Kevin Spacey, Rachel Weisz, John Higgins and Kathy Bates, (just to name a few). How can it miss? All I can say is, sit back with your bowl of popcorn, and enjoy the movie. You won't be disappointed.
This is an update to my review. Although this is still one of my favorite movies, when I played it the other night, I found it was damaged. I carefully wiped it down, but it still had "errors". The movie was sealed, and was not used. I did not contact Amazon or the seller, since it was going to be more trouble than it was worth to return it. Hope others have a better experience.
on January 26, 2016
I really liked this movie when I first saw. It's not a movie I can watch over and over however. Vince Vaughn plays it over the top, as usual I guess, and it gets a bit wearing the 3rd or 4th time around. But some of the best lines of the movie aren't his, and so I still find fun to watch on occasion.
But this is the first Christmas movie that I can recall that introduces the idea that Santa has a family and extended family at that. Plus the movie does not play down to silly stupid in the second half as a number of other Santa movies I could name do. So for the notion of Santa having a family, this is one I wanted for my granddaughter to see.
on January 18, 2016
This movie brings to light how hard it can be being a younger sibling...especially if you feel like you're hiding in someone's shadows. I thought it was a great concept for a Christmas movie because you never really think of Santa as having siblings...our family outside of the elves and Mrs.Clause for that matter. I thought this movie would be great for everyone of all ages as there really weren't any parts that were inappropriate for kids. I love that Vince Vaughn was cast in this movie as he's one of my favorite across and he plays a very funny part. I would watch this movie over and over again! Great film, in my honest opinion!
on December 22, 2015
We watched this as a young-ish married couple without kids and were not impressed. The funny moments were too few and far between and it of course included a healthy dose of predictability and Christmas movie cliché. I'm not really sure who this movie is for; it does not seem to target kids, as kids are barely featured in it. It is not interesting enough or funny enough for adults. Zero replay-ability. Watch something from the Santa Clause series and Jingle all the way again instead of watching this once.