OMFG! Santa Claus had a brother?! Well, in this movie he does. Welcome to Fred Claus, Santa’s freeloading older brother.
So this film came out four years after Elf, and it was clearly trying to get some of that money with a similar idea – a long lost Christmas character you didn’t know about. Was it as successful? No, but it performed decently at the box office. Is this a good movie? No. The jokes are pretty bad, it’s generic and lazy, but it’s one of those films you’d have to be really hard hearted to hate. It has a nice little message about brothers and family, so come on, leave poor Fred alone.
All the main roles are solid. Paul Giamatti is fine as Santa, Rachel Weisz is serviceable as Fred’s girlfriend, Kevin Spacey is mildly amusing as a jackass efficiency expert, and even Kathy Bates comes along for the ride. Vince Vaughn is in the lead role, and yes, he talks really fast. This is one of the more tolerable Vince Vaughn performances, and because he talks so much, a couple jokes are going to get through – it’s a mathematical certainly.
While the actors all give a good effort, there are still some sequences I can’t forgive. We get the quintessential “hilarious” Jewish family pop in. There’s a DJ elf who spouts of stereotypes. The writing also just doesn’t care at times. Fred’s girlfriend knows nothing about his roots, but suddenly she’s in a group therapy session with his family on the North Pole, and she’s just like, “whatevs.” Uh, you’re on the North Pole where you just found out your boyfriend’s brother is Santa Claus. I would think there would be a lot to process there. The worst scene of all though is a Siblings Anonymous meeting where Frank Stallone and Roger Clinton show up. Awful. Just awful.
Fred Claus is fine. That’s really all I have left to say. If you’re bored of all the traditional Christmas movies and feel like changing it up for a year, you’ll find Fred Claus to be an adequate substitute. There. How’s that for a ringing endorsement?
Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.