Friday, December 7, 2007
And now an actual, current holiday movie, in theaters as we speak!
Fred Claus stars Vince Vaughan as the title character and Paul Giamatti as his kid brother Saint Nicholas, better known as Santa Claus.
I was not expecting much from this movie to be honest. Generally speaking, I am not a huge Vince Vaughan fan, but I do have respect for Paul Giamatti and was intrigued at his casting as the big S. At best, I figured it would be mildly tolerable. At worst as steaming pile of ... reindeer poop. Well, the movie turned out to be rather more enjoyable than I'd anticipated, which was a pleasant surprise.
The story centers on Fred Claus, big brother of Santa Claus, and how he feels overshadowed by the big S for most of his life. Apparently, saints as well as their families and significant others enjoy the fringe benefit of eternal youth. Fred gets into a scrape and needs to ask his brother for a loan for bail plus $50K extra so he can open an off track betting parlor across the street from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. In exchange, he must come up to the North Pole and help Santa out. All does not go according to plan and Santa is having troubles of his own when an efficiency expert named Clyde (Kevin Spacey) shows up and threatens to shut the whole Santa's workshop operation down. (My question to this is WHO would have authorized this efficieny expert in the first place? To whom does S. Claus answer?)
Sounds like a formula for disaster, right? Well, it's not perfect, but it definitely has enough amusing bits and a bit of a sweet (but not saccharine) streak to make it work somehow. The scene involving the support group for siblings of famous people is worth the price of admission in and of itself. And the movie does have a nice heart to it really. I could have done without the elf in love with a normal sized person subplot but basically I enjoyed this one. It is nice to be surprised in one's expectations upon occasion.
3 candy canes.
J.A. Morris says:
I agree with most of what RigbyMel wrote.
I'll add that my favorite scenes are the ones involving arguments between Santa and Fred. Giamatti is the main reason I went to see Fred Claus and he plays a great Santa. I'm not the biggest Vaughn fan either, but I thought he was fine too. Some of his dialog feels like it was improvised (though it probably wasn't), which makes his character sound more realistic.
And I also thought it was nice that Mrs. Claus was given a first name (Annette) in this film.
I laughed out loud a few times, but 'Fred Claus' is better described as "fun and entertaining" than "hilarious".
My biggest gripe (like RigbyMel) is this business of Santa answering to "the board". The movie never tells us who sits on this board. God? Other saints? A little explanation would have helped.
Otherwise, Fred Claus is a fun enough movie, but not a future holiday classic.
J.A. Morris' rating:
3 candy canes.