Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Fred Claus

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:PG
Profanity:Brief schoolyard language
Nudity/Sex:Mild sexual references, non-explicit childbirth scene, skimpy clothing
Alcohol/Drugs:None
Violence/Scariness:Comic peril
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:November 9, 2007

fredclausposter2.jpg
The predictable work and family and romantic complications ensue, but they are dragged out and overplotted as an efficiency expert (Kevin Spacey) comes in for some bah-humbug moments, threatening to outsource the entire operation. The movie could have used an efficiency expert as it drags on about half an hour too long and the ratio of laughter per minute declines. All that should matter in the movie are the two brothers. As long as we stay with them, the movie stays on the “nice” list.
Vince Vaughn has a literally off-beat vibe. His words tumble out in a rapidly syncopated tumble and his delivery vibrates like a plucked high tension wire. The words come out so quickly that it takes a moment to realize that he has just revealed something hilariously honest that even he does not seem to know he said. He is disarmingly frank about being a bit of a liar.
Director David Dobkin has worked well with Vaughn before (in the under-appreciated “Clay Pigeons” and the smash comedy “The Wedding Crashers”) and this movie about Santa’s brother is well-designed to take advantage of Vaughn’s strengths. The theme of sibling rivalry is perfect for showing off Vaughn’s gift for barely-under-the-surface resentment. And it is very funny to see the 6’4″ actor trying to interact with hundreds of elves and their Lilliputian environment.
The set-up is promising: If you think sibling rivalry is tough, imagine being the sibling of the most beloved figure in the world: Santa Claus (Paul Giamatti). And Vaughn is marvelous dancing with the elves and struggling not to be drawn to his irresistibly loveable brother. But plot digressions that take much too long to resolve and mangled special effects are a distraction and a nuisance.
According to this movie, Santa’s older brother Fred (Vince Vaughn) has spent hundreds of years feeling slighted and resentful. It turns out that when Nicholas became a saint, his entire family was granted perpetual life. So, Fred now lives in Chicago, where he is needs money to start his off-track betting operation, and where his meter-maid girlfriend (Rachel Weisz) is losing patience with his evasions and unreliability. Fred asks his brother Nick (Santa) for money. Mrs. Claus wants him to say no, but he tells her, “I’m a saint. Tough love’s a little difficult for me.” The best he can do is insist Fred come up to the North Pole to earn the money. So Willie (the head of John Michael Higgins on a little person’s body), the head elf, swings by in the sleigh to pick him up, and Fred gets whisked to Santa’s workshop by reindeer express.
Fred does not exactly fit in, physically or culturally. He gets into a tussle with the workshop’s DJ (the head of Chris “Ludacris” Bridges on a little person’s body), after one too many spins of sugary seasonal tunes. Fred shoves him aside and plays Elvis singing “Rubberneckin’.” The elves get so excited that the workshop turns into a rave, complete with mosh pit.
The predictable work and family and romantic complications ensue, but they are dragged out and overplotted as an efficiency expert (Kevin Spacey) comes in for some bah-humbug moments, threatening to outsource the entire operation. The movie could have used an efficiency expert as it drags on about half an hour too long and the ratio of laughter per minute declines. All that should matter in the movie are the two brothers. As long as we stay with them, the movie stays on the “nice” list.
Parents should know that this movie has some crude humor, including mild sexual references, potty jokes, a non-explicit childbirth scene, mild language, and some skimpy clothing. Some audience members will find it insensitive that Fred and the elves assume that boys will all want one gender-specific toy and girls will want another, though it does show one girl happily receiving the “boy’s” toy. And this is a rare Christmas film to recognize that some people belong to religions that do not celebrate Christmas or expect a visit from Santa. Some may also find it insensitive that the faces of full-size actors are imposed on the bodies of little people.
Families who see this movie should talk about Fred’s feelings about Nick. Why was it hard for him to feel good about his brother? Who was right about the naughty list? How can an efficiency expert be a help?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Elf (some crude humor) and The Santa Clause.


Vince Vaughn has a literally off-beat vibe. His words tumble out in a rapidly syncopated tumble and his delivery vibrates like a plucked high tension wire. The words come out so quickly that it takes a moment to realize that he has just revealed something hilariously honest that even he does not seem to know he said. He is disarmingly frank about being a bit of a liar.
Director David Dobkin has worked well with Vaughn before (in the under-appreciated “Clay Pigeons” and the smash comedy “The Wedding Crashers”) and this movie about Santa’s brother is well-designed to take advantage of Vaughn’s strengths. The theme of sibling rivalry is perfect for showing off Vaughn’s gift for barely-under-the-surface resentment. And it is very funny to see the 6’4″ actor trying to interact with hundreds of elves and their Lilliputian environment.
The set-up is promising: If you think sibling rivalry is tough, imagine being the sibling of the most beloved figure in the world: Santa Claus (Paul Giamatti). And Vaughn is marvelous dancing with the elves and struggling not to be drawn to his irresistibly loveable brother. But plot digressions that take much too long to resolve and mangled special effects are a distraction and a nuisance.
According to this movie, Santa’s older brother Fred (Vince Vaughn) has spent hundreds of years feeling slighted and resentful. It turns out that when Nicholas became a saint, his entire family was granted perpetual life. So, Fred now lives in Chicago, where he is needs money to start his off-track betting operation, and where his meter-maid girlfriend (Rachel Weisz) is losing patience with his evasions and unreliability. Fred asks his brother Nick (Santa) for money. Mrs. Claus wants him to say no, but he tells her, “I’m a saint. Tough love’s a little difficult for me.” The best he can do is insist Fred come up to the North Pole to earn the money. So Willie (the head of John Michael Higgins on a little person’s body), the head elf, swings by in the sleigh to pick him up, and Fred gets whisked to Santa’s workshop by reindeer express.
Fred does not exactly fit in, physically or culturally. He gets into a tussle with the workshop’s DJ (the head of Chris “Ludacris” Bridges on a little person’s body), after one too many spins of sugary seasonal tunes. Fred shoves him aside and plays Elvis singing “Rubberneckin’.” The elves get so excited that the workshop turns into a rave, complete with mosh pit.
The predictable work and family and romantic complications ensue, but they are dragged out and overplotted as an efficiency expert (Kevin Spacey) comes in for some bah-humbug moments, threatening to outsource the entire operation. The movie could have used an efficiency expert as it drags on about half an hour too long and the ratio of laughter per minute declines. All that should matter in the movie are the two brothers. As long as we stay with them, the movie stays on the “nice” list.
Parents should know that this movie has some crude humor, including mild sexual references, potty jokes, a non-explicit childbirth scene, mild language, and some skimpy clothing. Some audience members will find it insensitive that Fred and the elves assume that boys will all want one gender-specific toy and girls will want another, though it does show one girl happily receiving the “boy’s” toy. And this is a rare Christmas film to recognize that some people belong to religions that do not celebrate Christmas or expect a visit from Santa. Some may also find it insensitive that the faces of full-size actors are imposed on the bodies of little people.
Families who see this movie should talk about Fred’s feelings about Nick. Why was it hard for him to feel good about his brother? Who was right about the naughty list? How can an efficiency expert be a help?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Elf (some crude humor) and The Santa Clause.



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