Rated PG for mild language and some rude humor.
Directed By: David Dobkin
Written By: Dan Fogelman
Staring: Vince Vaughan, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Spacey, John Michael Higgins, Miranda Richardson, Rachel Weisz, Kathy Bates, Bobb’e J. Thompson, Elizabeth Banks, and Trevor Peacock
Santa’s having some trouble getting the sled off the ground? -Fred Claus
There are so many new theories and interpretations of the mythology of Santa Claus anymore it’s difficult to realize it was once a sacred childhood ideal. Now it’s just another topic for Hollywood to exploit and use as a tool for money making purposes. Unlike the The Santa Claus with Tim Allen or The Grinch Who Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey , Fred Claus was a film that lacked the genuine sweetness, awe, and affection for the mystery of Christmas and Santa Claus. It became an engine for a film focused on glorifying Vince Vaughn’s comedic talents and making the film more about being funny than anything else. The comedy may have been redeeming, if the film had actually been funny.
It turns out good old St. Nick, or more widely referred to as Santa Claus is not an only child. His older brother Fred was quickly left in the shadows by his magical younger brother. Before long his parents favoritism and lack of understanding from his brother lead him to be a cynical loner. Blessed with eternal life and youth, he somehow stays considerably younger looking than his brother while his hair grows long and white. He works for a repossession company and only inquires with his family or brother when in need of money.
The two big lessons the brothers teach one another is mind numbing. Though the lesson Fred teaches Nick takes the cake, and that’s the ideal that all kids are good so there shouldn’t be a naughty list. Even young kids are wise enough to know that not ALL children are good, and Santa is supposed to be wise enough to decipher which ones are inherently bad and which ones are good. A homeless kid that’s acting out isn’t necessarily naughty, and Santa should be able to discern that. Kids have been told for centuries that Santa only brings kids that are well behaved presents, and all kids aren’t well behaved all the time, but that doesn’t mean their bad kids. Fred Claus took that whole notion way too far, and violated the goodness in it’s creation to make some unremarkable film have some revelation at the end.
There was one saving grace throughout the story and that was the scene where Fred joined the support group. Even having Stephen Baldwin there was hysterical, and then no one taking him serious in the only group that probably could understand him was utter rejection. Even with the rejection this Sibling Support group was the only highlight of the season.
Fred’s parents were awful, so who could blame the kid for turning into a cynical grown man? Not to mention the fact that his brother’s wife, the supposed kind hearted Mrs. Claus, is a cold hearted unsympathetic witch. Kevin Spacey played the villain and he was more likable and sympathetic than the Claus family. How could such awful people raise Saint Nick? Everything about it was so backwards it was impossible to incorporate suspension of disbelief. In the universe created by director David Dobkin, his own ideals weren’t rational and didn’t work, making the comedy of the film lackluster.
I really didn’t like this movie or understand what they were trying to achieve. It had nothing new to offer and trampled all over the magic and mystical allure that is Santa. I’m not saying it has to follow all these rules of Santa, but lets pay the ideal a little respect. There’s a reason beyond consumerism that’s kept the mysticism of Santa Claus alive all these years, but films like Fred Claus threaten to let the money making aspect of the holidays destroy one of the few magical wonders kids have left to enjoy. At the very least pay the myth some respect and still try to put your imprint your own ideals without compromising everything that makes the concept so special in the first place. If not for the support group for brothers scene and the Ninja Elves, this film would have been an entire loss.