Fred Claus

Out Now On-Demand

The congenial Vince Vaughn plays Fred Claus, Santa's bitter older brother, as he is forced to help his brother at the North Pole in the busy pre-Christmas season to work off a debt.

Meanwhile, Santa (Paul Giamatti) and Mrs Claus (Miranda Richardson) and getting audited by an efficiency expert (Kevin Spacey) who plans to shut down Santa's shop.

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Directed by

Written by

115mins

Rating: PG medium level violence

USA

Official Site

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Who’d a thunk it? Turns out Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti and (surprise!) Kevin Spacey are really just the world’s most charming kids.

Fred Claus (the character) may be a barely redeemable, cynical schmuck of a guy, but Fred Claus (the movie) may be the least cynical holiday-based overture from Hollywood toward the young folks in years.

Since time immemorial (or at least since the demographic-marketing explosion also known as the 1990s) the kids have had to put up with ugly, malformed hybrid-cinema: pics that tried to drag in the youth market while packing incongruously grown-up references for the parents; horrible, skate-board-dad movies focus-grouped all to hell; soulless exercises in guerrilla marketing branded within an inch of their poor sitcom-star-does-cinema lives.

And at last, affectionate, with goodwill and good humour, bringing all the sly wit of its illustrious cast, steps Fred Claus into cinema, viewing like a movie unaware that there ever was such a thing as synergistic product-placement, or such a being as a “kidult”!

Vaughn, peddling the same schtick he’s brought to most every role since Swingers, works a treat here, slotting perfectly alongside Giamatti (whose lack of self-consciousness within the world’s most iconic fatsuit manages to make the guy even more respectable) and the always-compulsively-watchable Spacey.

They’re saying, down on the street, that earnest is the new ironic: that our tongues are sore from being wedged so firmly in our cheeks for so damn long. What they’re whispering is that the kids are sick of being branded to, and just want something to take them away and tell them a fun story; and that the adults, if they could get over being so arch and cleverer-than-thou, are probably going to be right there with them.

And if that’s the case, then baby, Fred Claus is just so money.

Reviewed by Tom Goulter

NZ Herald [Francesca Rudkin]

press

A good idea but too long and not very funny...

NZ Herald [Francesca Rudkin]

press

A good idea but too long and not very funny...

Premiere [USA]

press

Silly, heartwarming, and fun, director David Dobkin's new spin on the Santa tale is a great way to spend a decidedly PG-rated afternoon.

Salon.com [Stephanie Zacharek]

press

Even though Vaughn knows how to build a pretty good performance out of little more than exasperated eye-rolling, he's just coasting here, and his scenes with Giamatti have no weight and no energy. There's some mild excitement when the two goad each other into a rambunctious snowball fight, but even that sequence devolves into listless, sloppy slapstick.

San Francisco Chronicle

press

Vince Vaughn as Santa's black-sheep older brother. That sounded funny enough. But Fred Claus is a complete bust, derivative and uninspired, boring and dull, not funny, not moving and about a half hour too long. It makes a beeline for mawkishness at every turn, but all its emotions are unearned and false. This is just plain bad.

The Christchurch Press [Margaret Agnew]

press

1/2 You can practically smell the disaster and inevitable schmaltzy last-minute redemption coming in this by-the-books screenplay. Despite an interesting cast that also includes Kathy Bates, Trevor Peacock, Ludacris, and Elizabeth Banks, it's not merry...

Variety [USA]

press

The burden of having a famous sibling seems fraught with comedic possibilities, but whatever potential existed has been squandered and then some in Fred Claus, dumping coal into everyone’s holiday stocking.