Director: David Dobkin
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Miranda
Richardson, Kathy Bates, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins,
Rachel Weisz, Kevin Spacey
RunTime: 1 hr 56 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Official Website: www.fredclaus.net
Opening Day: 22 November 2007
Claus (VINCE VAUGHN) has lived almost his entire life in his
little brother’s very large shadow. Fred tried, but
he could never live up to the example set by the younger Nicholas
(PAUL GIAMATTI), who was just a perfect…well…Saint.
True to form, Nicholas grew up to be the model of giving,
while Fred became the polar opposite: a repo man who then
steals what he repossesses. Now Fred’s dirty dealings
have landed him in jail. Over his wife’s objections,
Nicholas happily agrees to bail his big brother out on one
condition: that Fred come to the North Pole and work off his
debt making toys. The trouble is that Fred isn’t exactly
elf material and, with Christmas fast approaching, this one
bad seed could jeopardize the jolliest holiday of the year.
Has Fred finally pushed his little brother to the brink? This
time, what Fred may have stolen is Christmas itself, and it
is going to take more than Rudolph to set things right..
Claus has a jealous older brother who lives in Chicago? Anybody
who is family with a saint will never grow old? Father Christmas
may just get retrenched if his workshop doesn’t churn
out toys for every single kid around the world? Err, yah right.
are just some of the convenient excuses the filmmakers came
up with so they can roll out this Christmas movie in time
for the festive season. And thanks to this obvious attempt
at raking money at the box office, stars like Vince Vaughn,
Paul Giamatti, Rachel Weisz and Kevin Spacey can get some
quick bucks for Christmas spending.
they can do better than to star in this slapstick holiday
movie, if you ask us.
plays Santa’s older brother, Fred, who feels sore because
his younger brother has getting all the love in the family
since the day he was born. And it doesn’t help that
everyone knows Santa for his generosity and jolliness, whilst
he is just a loser who has run out of money and luck. When
he is forced to visit Santa in the North Pole and be part
of the whole gift preparation process, things go terribly
be fair, we are giving the writers some credit for coming
up with this rather novel idea of Fred messing up Christmas
because things haven’t really been going well in the
dysfunctional family. We have all been jealous of this well-loved
sibling before, haven’t we? But when the 116-minute
movie becomes undecided whether it should be wickedly funny
(Vaughn setting up his own fund collecting station to compete
with Santas from The Salvation Army) or sickly sentimental
(a concluding montage of families opening presents edited
to “Silent Night” – come on!), the picture
results in being a drag instead.
are some truly funny scenes which made us chuckle quite a
bit. A hip-gyrating Vaughn leading elves to rock music instead
of the feel-good “Santa Claus is coming to Town”
was definitely a sight to behold. A defeated Vaughn sitting
in a support group with Frank Stallone, Roger Clinton and
Stephen Baldwin (note their last names) talking about overachieving
siblings tickled our ribs hard. And an oversized Vaughn sleeping
on a small bed with both legs sticking out is kind of silly
fast-talking Fred Claus delivers some hilarious lines, while
Giamatti is so covered up with his white hair and beard; it’s
really quite difficult to milk out a good performance from
him. Elsewhere, the underused Kathy Bates plays their mother
to some bland effect, and the radiant Weisz plays Vaughn’s
girlfriend with quite limited screen time.
highlight of this movie is Spacey, who plays an uptight efficiency
quality control officer who is out to ruin Christmas. His
spot-on one-liners about the commercialism and phoniness of
Christmas are wonderfully spouted by the deadpan actor. And
to strip down an Oscar winner’s dignity by making him
a sad, angry man who didn’t get his Superman cape when
he was a kid gives us cheap thrills.
that had us sniggering, then the holiday movie has done its
job of making us jolly.
(Don’t be a Scrooge – go buy a ticket
and laugh at this holiday movie this festive season)
Review by John Li