Daves 3-Word Review:
There are so many different options for direction in Christmas films, but my favorite is when there is a good balance between reality and fantasy, maybe with a slight preference towards reality. The Santa Clause is a perfect example, especially for the first film. Fred Claus seems like it should have fit right in with The Santa Clause, but there are certain things here and there that just seem…off. Not to say the movie is bad, per se, just could have definitely been better than what it was. As it is, it’s still relatively decent for the most part, and not a bad watch for the Christmas season.
Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn) is apparently Santa’s older brother that grew up in the shadow of Santa (Paul Giamatti). The constant belittling he grew up coming from his parents ultimately caused Fred to become a naughty boy forced to live forever due to Santa’s sainthood. When he tries to open up a shop, he realized he needed $50,000, to which he asked the biggest gift-giver in the world, Santa. Santa was running behind at the workshop, and agreed to pay his brother if he’d visit for Christmas and help out around the North Pole. Meanwhile, an efficiency investigator by the name of Clyde (Kevin Spacey) is trying his darndest to shut the pole down, and Santa tries his hardest to avoid three strikes.
Okay, who is going to really believe Vince Vaughn is Santa’s older brother? It just doesn’t add up, Giamatti on his own looks older than Vaughn, and his full head of frizzy white hair doesn’t help matters. I’ll just skim by the fact that they look nothing alike and no one will believe they are related. Thankfully, this fact is a more minute detail in the film because it’s more focused on family in general, but also transformation from naughty to nice, and a really important message about what makes a kid naughty that honestly should be said in more Christmas films, I would think at least.
When you think about it, the film explained in short is Vince Vaughn being Vince Vaughn in the North Pole. The rest of it you can kind of piece together yourself. Vaughn is a pretty funny guy, honestly, even if you’re not as much of a fan of him anymore, he still has the stuff. I’m not sure this is the best role for him, because it just seemed like he did it for fun and nothing else, but for what it was, it has some good, strong scenes here and there, plus there is plenty Christmas spirit to go around.
What I didn’t really understand was Kevin Spacey. For the most part, he just seemed like…a plot tool that was more useless than anything else. The problem was his role was integral to the story’s progression. Unfortunately, when it came to his character, all I could think of was that the writer’s needed some kind of antagonist to screw everything up even more. Well, Vince Vaughn’s character is already screwing things up as is, and because this is almost a coming-of-age flick of redemption…the antagonist never had to be anyone other than Fred himself. That’s what really bugs me about the film. I think Spacey’s character is interesting sometimes, but overall…he just screwed everything up.
In the end, it’s a Christmas film, and no Christmas film is ever really trying to win an award. All they are trying to do is keep that cheer up. Because of that, I think that overall, Fred Claus did its job. No, it’s not perfect, and not all the jokes work, but it’s alright.
Fred Claus is a-okay in the world of Christmas films. While I wouldn’t put it on my annual tradition of Christmas film-watching, I’d still say its good enough for a one time watch. If you’re a fan of Vince Vaughn’s sense of humor, this is a perfect film for the holidays.
The story itself is a bit boring. It’s kind of all over the place because it focuses on family values, but Fred Claus definitely loses that aspect that other Christmas films have, a simple and easy-to-follow plot. Also…can we just talk about how Paul Giamatti looks nothing like Santa?
Fred Claus: You’re gonna get hooked on that thing. I can see it now. Sixteen thousand bags of Cheetos later, you’ll wake up, you’re thirty-five, you’re overweight, you’re crying about your life in front of the soaps. I just did you a favor. And who are you going to have to thank for all that? Not the big guy in the red suit, but your pal Fred.