Ken's Review: Fred Claus - The Vince Vaughn Show
by Ken Evans
November 12, 2007
This has been one of the oddest movie experiences I've had all year. Looking back at the very first teaser for Fred Claus, the one with Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti on the couch arguing, I actually was kind of excited to see it. Then as the other clips and trailers surfaced I quickly lost interest. It turned from a funny, unique, adult take on Christmas to a cheesy, slapstick kid's movie. Although there is nothing wrong with that, I just lost almost any interest to see it. Saturday morning rolled around and with my wife at work and a friend visiting from out of town, I figured why not. Now, after a week of letting Fred Claus sink in, I can't believe I'm saying this, but it wasn't horrible.
I'm going to skip the plot summary as its fairly self explanatory, especially if you've seen the trailers. Instead I'll get right to the good and bad of this film. Starting with the good is Vince Vaughn. I have been a fan of Vince since the first time I watched Swingers. That kind of role fits him like a glove. Fast talking, animated and loud is the Vince Vaughn that we have come to know and love. It seems like he is always trying to talk someone into something in most of his movies. He plays the manipulator always trying to convince someone of looking at the situation his way or he is trying to talk himself out of some awkward situation. As weird as that kind of character might seem in this semi-kids film, it works perfectly.
Fred Claus starts off by saying that, "This is the story of Fred." This is basically true although it could have just as well said that, "This is the Vince Vaughn show." Vince is the main character and really the only funny thing in it. He has joke after joke and line after line. Although there are other people like Paul Giamatti, Rachel Weisz, and Kevin Spacey, they just play off of and point all the attention to Vaughn. Don't get me wrong, I thought that Giamatti and Spacey had their moments, but looking at the film as a whole, they are almost forgettable. This isn't their fault; they just weren't given the screen time to do much.
This is a kid's film but be warned. Having John Michael Higgins and Ludacris heads CGI-placed onto elf bodies is the scariest thing I have seen in a film in a long time. It didn't just look awful, it was freaky. I don't know how, after watching the final cut, the studio was able to watch the scenes with them in it and give it the final stamp of approval. The other parts of the film that were out of place were the dance sequence in the toy room and the snowball fight/sleigh ride with Giamatti and Vaughn. Most everything else was grownup humor except these two scenes. They were obviously put in to appeal to kids (the kid next to me was crying during the scenes because he was laughing so hard), but the transition into these scenes was very awkward.
This is the best Christmas movie since Elf. That really isn't saying much though. While I absolutely love Elf, every Christmas film since has just been bad. Movies like Surviving Christmas, Deck the Halls, The Family Stone, Christmas with the Kranks, The Santa Clause 3, and Black Christmas have left Christmas-time in the theater looking dismal. Like I mentioned previously, this is far from a great movie, but if you're looking for something to take the family to, this will be a safe bet to entertain kids and parents alike.