Fred Clause (2007) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Comedy / Family / Fantasy
Warner Brothers || PG - 115 minutes - $35.99 || 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

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: 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
  • Pause for Clause: Elves Tell All
  • Sibling Rivalry
  • Vince and Paul's Fireside Chat
  • Music Video
  • Fred Clause: Race to Save Christmas Game
  • Digital Copy


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese

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.::THE FILM::.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. A Christmas Story. It’s 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 Clause’s (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 Santa’s.

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 kids’ 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 isn’t 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 film’s failure isn’t 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 I’m unsure who exactly this film is aimed at. Certainly Vince Vaughn fans won’t be satisfied as he’s 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 wasn’t a huge surprise given it is a holiday movie that needs the family happy ending. But I found myself not laughing at any of Vaughn’s 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 “Siblings Anonymous” sequence where Fred attends a meeting with other brothers of famous celebrities. It’s 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 Santa’s fetching assistant.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The Blu-ray comes with three, yes three, discs... First up are 13 forgettable deleted scenes (25:29) including 3 alternate takes with Ludicrus, and the director’s commentary with Dobkin. These two features are available on the DVD.

Pause for Clause: Elves Tell All (8:59; HD) is a dumb featurette where the elves, including Elizabeth Banks and her cleavage, talk in character about Santa Clause and other important notes of their jobs. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Sibling Rivalry (9:27; HD) takes a closer look at one of the only highlights in the movie: the “Siblings Anonymous” scene where the brothers of famous people (Roger Clinton, Stephen Baldwin and Frank Stallone) air their grievances. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Meet the Other Clause (13:04; HD) – This is a behind-the-scenes look at the North Pole set with more interviews with cast and crew. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Vince and Paul’s Fireside Chat (4:10) is one of those “Unscripted” segments that was sponsored by Moviefone where two guys answer a few questions sent in by users. Here Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti answer the questions and seem to have a good time. I only wish these two recorded a commentary... ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Finally there is Ludacrismas Music Video (1:36; HD) ** Blu-ray Exclusive **, Fred Clause: Race to Save Christmas DVD Game ** Blu-ray Exclusive ** (on a third disc) and a digital copy.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The film is presented in 1080p high-def and in its original 2.40 aspect ratio. Outside of a couple night shots where a good amount of grain was quite noticeable, the movie actually looked good. This is not demo quality or anything, but for a comedy it’s not bad.

Warner Brothers continues to puzzle Blu-ray owners by supplying some releases with TrueHD tracks and others, even high profile titles, with standard Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. While I’m sure no one will complain that a DD5.1 was included with Fred Clause, it didn’t do the movie any service. I actually found this track to be at times weak and barely used my rear speakers.



.::OVERALL::.

Fred Clause is the classic example of wasted opportunities. It had the great idea of telling the story of Santa’s 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 “trilogy”) but don’t deliver in terms of quality. As for this Blu-ray, Warner does a good job with the video quality as seeing this in 1080p high-def is a noticeable improvement over the SD version, but giving it a Dolby Digital 5.1 track makes this, even if it were a good film, I can only say skip this title.