Fred Claus (2007) film review


Directed by David Dobkin

Starring Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Spacey & Rachel Weisz

Christmas film review by Chris Olson

Sibling rivalry is at the heart of this Christmas comedy, with Vince Vaughn playing Fred, the surly brother of Santa (Paul Giamatti) who has wasted his immortality which comes with being related to a saint, by being a bitter bro.


Having also starred in another Christmas film, which UK Film Review gave its verdict on recently, Four Christmases (2008), Vince Vaughn seems like an unlikely choice for festive characters. It seems his sarcasm and dry humour are the popular casting choice when putting together a Christmas film, to offset the saccharine elements of joy to the world and all that stuff. Unlike Four Christmases, though, Vaughn is not dealing with broken families and trying to keep Reese Witherspoon sweet, instead he is charged with working for his brother at the North Pole in order to earn some cash to pay for a casino.

Since the brothers rarely see each other, with Fred feeling like a total disappointment compared to his world famous brother, reuniting was always going to be trouble, but with the arrival of a pen-pushing “efficiency” manager (Kevin Spacey), who hopes to have Santa fired, Christmas just got serious.

Director David Dobkin takes few risks with this movie, rarely straying from easy shots and mild sequences, allowing the personality of Vaughn to do most of the legwork. A few chase scenes are thrown in to raise the tempo in places, one in particular involving a gaggle of charity Santas is quite amusing, but most of the movie is spent waiting for Fred to realise he is being a festive fuck-up and crack on with the turnabout. Which, SPOILER ALERT, comes in predictable fashion.


Kevin Spacey manages to steal all the scenes he is in (not very charitable of you Kev!) which is not particularly hard, and Rachel Weisz plays the eternally forgiving girlfriend of Fred, but for the most part this is a Vaughn film filled with Vaughness. As a fan of films like Dodgeball (2004) and even Four Christmases, Fred Claus is a very watchable Christmas Film, but fails to bring anything new and exciting to the array on offer this time of year.

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