Fred Clause (2007)

Genre(s): Comedy / Family / Fantasy
Warner Brothers || PG - 115 minutes - $28.98 || November 25, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-11-29


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: David Dobkin
Writer(s): Jessie Nelson and Dan Fogelman (story), Dan Fogelman (screenplay)
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Miranda Richardson, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Banks, Rachel Weisz, Kathy Bates, Kevin Spacey


Theatrical Release Date: November 9, 2007


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director's Commentary
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes
  • Digital Copy


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40), Full Frame (1.33)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

[Note: Most of this taken from my Blu-ray review]

National Lampoonís Christmas Vacation. A Christmas Story. Itís a Wonderful Life. These are three Christmas classics in varying genres. Does Fred Clause have what it takes to be even a B-level classic, a movie that should be shown non-stop Christmas week? Not by a long shot. Fred Clause is a wildly uneven and worse, unfunny holiday flick that fails to find a real identity thanks in large part to its star, Vince Vaughn.

The story centers on Santa Clauseís (Giamatti) unknown brother, Fred (Vaughn). Fred lived his life in the astounding shadow of his goody-good brother as nothing he did could compare. Although as children Nick and Fred were best friends, their relationship soon turned sour and into adulthood while Nick became the man he was destined to be, Fred was on the decline. Fred works as a repo man, treats his gorgeous girlfriend (Weisz) with little consideration and gets in trouble with the law after being chased by a pack of Salvation Army Santaís.

Having no one to turn to, Fred calls his brother to not only bail him out but help secure financing for a restaurant Fred wants to open. Nicholas agrees but only if Fred comes to the North Pole and help out during the stressful time to fulfill kidsí wish lists. Adding to the trouble is auditor Clyde Northcut (Spacey) is also in town to check in on the operations and threatens to shut down the factory if Nicholas does not meet the quota (i.e. fulfilling every wish).

This isnít a horrible movie by any stretch; in fact parts of it possess a certain amount of charm that most Christmas movies possess. But the big reason for the filmís failure isnít with the story, which in itself is pretty good, but with Vince Vaughn. The issue here is Vaughn is playing the same character he did in just about every movie (Into the Wild being the exception) and Iím unsure who exactly this film is aimed at. Certainly Vince Vaughn fans wonít be satisfied as heís limited by a family-friendly PG-rating and I doubt little kids (10 and under) really understand his style of fast-talking humor.

Fred Clause is yet another movie with a great idea with poor casting and even worse execution. Fact is, most of the jokes fell completely flat and the story goes into conventional territory by the final act, though this wasnít a huge surprise given it is a holiday movie that needs the family happy ending. But I found myself not laughing at any of Vaughnís fast-talking riffs and I was even less pleased during the usual family-film sound effects, especially one groan-worthy pratfall as the Santas chase Vaughn down the street. Add in a solid cast with Kevin Spacey and Rachel Weisz, you have more opportunity for greatness (or at least goodness) goes out the window.

One of the only scenes that do work, and one that I think only adults would appreciate, is a ďSiblings AnonymousĒ sequence where Fred attends a meeting with other brothers of famous celebrities. Itís really the only time I caught myself smiling and actually enjoying the movie... until the scene ended.

The movie was directed by David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) with a screenplay by Dan Fogelman, the man behind Cars and Bolt. It features a great cast -- which only adds to the overall disappointment -- with Kathy Bates as Mother Clause, Miranda Richardson as Mrs. Santa Clause, John Michael Higgins as the head elf and the utterly gorgeous Elizabeth Banks playing Santaís fetching assistant.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The DVD includes 13 deleted scenes (25:29) including 3 alternate takes with Ludicrus, and the directorís commentary with Dobkin.

The disc also includes a digital copy.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The movie is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 2.40 OAR. Having just watched the Blu-ray version, I found the DVD transfer to be quite bad in spots. I took a close look at a few scenes and found a great amount of artifacts in the faces, though the color palette seems to be pretty good. A full frame version is also available for those who might have kids who watch films on a smaller television.

A Dolby Digital 5.1 track provides nice audio for this holiday movie, but given itís almost entirely dialog driven with one music/dance sequence, I canít complain too much if itís not an immersive experience.



.::OVERALL::.

Fred Clause is the classic example of wasted opportunities. It had the great idea of telling the story of Santaís unknown and bitter brother but with the miscasting of Vince Vaughn, who I usually like even if it is his usual shtick, and an all around unfunny screenplay, it never really took off. It becomes one of hundreds of lame holiday movies that make decent money at the box office (see: The Santa Clause ďtrilogyĒ) but donít deliver in terms of quality.