Fred Claus (PG)



Family (2007)
115mins US

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, John Michael Higgins, Miranda Richardson, Rachel Weisz, Kathy Bates
Director: David Dobkin
Writer(s): Dan Fogelman
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Since he was born, Fred Claus has languished in the shadow of his saintly younger brother Nicholas. Now, their lives couldn't be more different. Nicholas selflessly spends every waking hour making toys for the children of the world with his elf helpers, while Fred scrapes a meagre living as a repo man. When Nicholas learns that his brother is almost destitute, he ignores the warnings of his wife Annette and invites Fred to the North Pole to pay his way in the toyshop. Unfortunately, with Christmas Eve fast approaching, cantankerous Fred isn't the best person to rely upon in a crisis.

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LondonNet Film Review
Fred Claus

David Dobkin's new comedy, reuniting the director with his Wedding Crashers leading man Vince Vaughn, will bring out the Scrooge in even the most ardent fan Christmas...

PAUL GIAMATTI stars as Nick Santa Claus and VINCE VAUGHN stars as Fred Claus in Warner Bros. Pictures holiday comedy Fred Claus, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Jaap Buitendjik.  2007 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.There is only so much holiday cheer a film can force down our throats before we start to feel nauseous. Fred Claus, a modern day fairy-tale about the rivalry between Saint Nick and his misunderstood brother, crosses that threshold in the first 30 minutes and keeps going... for almost two hours.

Screenwriter Dan Fogelman evidently has a very sweet tooth because he keeps drizzling on the schmaltz, from the shy elf who gets the girl, to the orphan who receives a new family and a puppy from Santa. Evidently somebody forget to remind the man in the red suit that a dog is for life not just for Christmas. Laughs are in perilously short supply, apart from the mildly amusing sequence at a Siblings Anonymous support group with cameos from real-life brothers of well-known political and Hollywood figures.

VINCE VAUGHN stars as Fred Claus in Warner Bros. Pictures holiday comedy Fred Claus, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Jaap Buitendjik.  2007 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.Vaughn works tirelessly to wring chuckles out of thin air. Since it is better to give than to receive, we regrettably give his sterling efforts the thumbs down.

Since he was born, Fred Claus (Vaughn) has languished in the shadow of his saintly younger brother, Nicholas (Paul Giamatti). "Fred, why can't you be more like your brother?" continually asks their mother (Kathy Bates), sowing the seeds of Fred's enmity. Now, their lives couldn't be more different. Nicholas selflessly spends every waking hour making toys for the children of the world with his helpers at the North Pole, aided by his wife Annette (Miranda Richardson) and head elf Willie (John Michael Higgins).

ELIZABETH BANKS as Charlene in Warner Bros. Pictures holiday comedy Fred Claus, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film stars Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti. Jaap Buitendjik. 2007 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.Meanwhile, Fred is almost bankrupt, scraping a meagre living as a repo man. He continually lets down his girlfriend Wanda (Rachel Weisz) and rages against smart-talking 11-year-old street urchin Slam (Bobbe' J. Thompson), who still believes in Santa. "He's a fame junkie. He's a clown. He's a megalomaniac!" seethes Fred. When Fred calls his brother for help, Nicholas ignores the pleadings of his wife and invites his errant sibling to the North Pole to work in the toyshop.

Unfortunately, with Christmas Eve fast approaching and efficiency inspector Clyde Northcutt (Kevin Spacey) on the prowl, looking for any excuse to shut down the operation, cantankerous Fred is a serious liability.

RACHEL WEISZ as Wanda and VINCE VAUGHN as Fred Claus in Warner Bros. Pictures holiday comedy Fred Claus, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Zade Rosenthal.  2007 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.Fred Claus fails to rouse any genuine holiday cheer - the healing of emotional rifts between the characters is as contrived as the finale, which sees Fred taking the reins of Santa's sleigh to save Christmas for the children of the world. While Vaughn blusters, Giamatti brings a surprising sweetness and exasperation to his role. Spacey doesn't break a sweat as the villain, suffering the humiliation of some outrageous in-movie promotion for the forthcoming Superman sequel. The soundtrack twinkles with all the staples of the season. Bah humbug.

- Sam Cannon


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