Monday, December 22, 2014

Movie Review: "Fred Claus" (2007)

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Movie"Fred Claus"
Director: David Dobkin
Year: 2007
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 56 minutes

Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn) is the older brother of Nicholas "Santa" Claus (Paul Giamatti). Fred has lived in the shadow of his brother his entire life and has grown to resent him. Fred is very different from his brother, where Nicholas is generous and brings presents to everyone, Fred is often selfish and works as a repo man. After getting arrested for a charity scam and brawl with a group of Salvation Army Santas, Fred calls his brother to bail him out. Nicholas agrees, under the condition he come up to the North Pole and help out for the holiday season. It turns out Fred may cause more problems than he helps, as he butts heads with Santa and is disruptive to toy production. To make matters worse, "The Board" has sent an efficiency expert, Mr. Clyde (Kevin Spacey), to evaluate Santa's workshop. He gives Santa three strikes, and if Santa fails, Mr. Clyde is going to shut them down.  

Though this movie has pretty terrible reviews across the board, we have come to really like it over the years! "Fred Claus" is a different sort of tale about Santa's brother, who grew up in the shadow of the much nicer and more generous sibling. In dire need of help, he turns to Santa to basically exploit him for money knowing his giving nature. Vince Vaughn is not a well-liked actor, but his sarcasm comes across well in this movie and we believe he was an excellent choice for the jaded and passed over older brother. He and Paul Giamatti, who plays Santa, have a good sibling rivalry throughout the movie and their chemistry works nicely here. Kevin Spacey, again, plays a villain type of character and his sinister presence is felt in even the simplest of stares. Like many other holiday films we have watched this year, something from his past made him bitter and resentful about the Christmas season, which, in turn, made him an angry and resentful person year round. It seems like a couple of people are under-utilized (namely Kathy Bates and Rachel Weisz), but overall, most of the actors do just fine in their given roles.

Though there are some glaringly contrived and overly sappy parts of this movie, the general sweet sentiment is one that we enjoy. The message of the movie conveys that there are really no naughty kids out there. Sure, there are kids who do bad things, but there are often underlying reasons as to why they behave that way. Deep down, all of these "bad" kids are actually good kids, but haven't been shown the right love or understanding to make them act "good." We're not sure we agree with this notion 100%, and maybe it's the sap talking, but probably every kid does deserve a present on Christmas, no matter how devilish they are throughout the year. The humor of the film is hit or miss, and mostly garners chuckles and smirks, though there is a hilarious scene towards the end of the movie where siblings of famous people all gather in a sibling support group and it is sort of a hilariously genius idea. The one distracting thing is Ludacris' digitatized face on someone else's body. It's really annoying to look at because you can tell it's digital and hovering over the body!

Overall, this is a decent Christmas movie. It might not be the best, but hey, we like it, and it's certainly not the worst we've seen this year.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 21%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "A Christmas Story"

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