Vince Vaughn leads an all star cast that includes Paul Giamatti, Rachel Weisz and Kevin Spacey in the new Warner Brothers comedy, Fred Claus.
The film revolves around the life of Vince Vaughn’s title character, Fred Claus. Claus is a shifty, fast talking and cynical repo-man who lives in the shadow of his younger brother, Santa Claus. Claus is something of a black sheep in his family. He is constantly borrowing money for business ventures that go nowhere and he never visits his brother, Santa at the North Pole. This changes, however, when Fred finds himself in need of a large sum of money for a new business venture. His brother agrees to help him, but does so on the condition that he must come to the North Pole and earn the money himself.
Kevin Spacey arrives just in time to complicate things, playing a heartless and cynical efficiency expert who is determined shut down Santa’s operation at any cost. The chemistry between Vaughn and Giamatti’s Santa is hilarious and great to watch, but it is Spacey who really shines in this movie. Spacey brings the same professional attitude to what could have easily been a very shallow role that he brings to his serious projects. The result is not just another Christmas-hating Scrooge, but a character with depth and feeling, whose actions are motivated by a difficult childhood.
The movie’s humour is well managed overall. This is a film that could have easily degenerated into silliness like the forgettable Santa Clause 2. Credit must be given to the film’s writers for ensure that this did not happen. There are some unavoidable sight gags, such as the giant Vaughn sleeping in an elf-sized bed and one scene in which an elf, voiced by the rapper Ludacris, is locked in cupboard. This sounds like a typical Christmas movie cliché and in the hands of another actor, would probably come across as such, but Vaughn manages to turn it into a funny scene. The only downside is that Ludacris’ head digitally placed over that of the actual actor playing his character and some of the body movements don’t quite match up.
Over all, Fred Claus is a funny and enjoyable Christmas movie. Parents with younger children will pleased to know that Vaughn tones down his usual profanity ridden humour to something a little more family friendly. Fans of Vince Vaughn will be please to know he still brings his fast-talking, acerbic brand of humour to what would otherwise be a standard Christmas film. There is much here for both children and their parents to enjoy. In years to come, Fred Claus will likely become a holiday classic.