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Fred Claus (2007)

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I expected this to be terrible, I actually kind of enjoyed it at times but I found it kind of fascinating. It's a pitch perfect example of how a film can sabotage itself, literally undoing every bit of good work it does with an unneeded scene or effect. It's the kind of film which will fool you into thinking it's actually kind of fun and interesting and then will layer stock 'comedy' sound effects over a prat fall. Which doesn't have enough faith in its concept and so keeps throwing new things into the mix to get a laugh.

Giamatti, Spacey and Vaughn are great in the film and they all work really well together. In isolation however they're kind of terrible and despite the obvious chemistry of the leads it feels like the film goes out of its way to seperate Vaughn and Giamatti as much as possible. Elizabeth Banks seems to be grateful for the work, Rachel Weisz seems to genuinely wondering what the hell she's doing and I'm like 95% sure that Jeffrey Dean Morgan accidently walked onto set thinking it was a whisky commercial or something.

But Vaughn and Giamatti do save the film and although Vaughn is kind of overbearing on his own, I literally have no idea if his character is just kind of insane or if he believes his conflict resolution stuff is going to work, he's watchable.

I'm kind of a sucker for Christmas films though and so the setting alone tends to make me go easier on the film. I'm also surprised that ANYONE, after Jingle All The Way, thought that a fistfight with a bunch of santas could be funny.

What I'm more interested in is the weird career trajectory of director David Dobkin. His resume includes the OK but kind of dull Clay Pigeons, the much maligned (but actually kind of fun, imo) Shanghai Knights and one of my favourite comedies of the 00s in Wedding Crashers.
post #2 of 10
This would've killed had they pushed for an R and gone for a BAD SANTA vibe. The family-friendly, saccharine stuff undoes everything.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Merriweather View Post
This would've killed had they pushed for an R and gone for a BAD SANTA vibe. The family-friendly, saccharine stuff undoes everything.
I wouldn't even say it needs an R-Rating. It just feels like EVERYTIME there's a fun joke they ruin it with a wacky sound effect or bizarre visual gag. It's like the director was completely sure his script sucked and as such he goes way over the top to compensate for it.
post #4 of 10
We DVR'd it last year and I'm glad I did. The pratfall/wacky stuff makes my kids laugh, while the stuff like the famous siblings support group are there just for me.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Rocco View Post
We DVR'd it last year and I'm glad I did. The pratfall/wacky stuff makes my kids laugh, while the stuff like the famous siblings support group are there just for me.
The famous siblings support group just feels like it's from an entirely different movie. It's really fun, but it's feel way more like an Austin Powers sort of gag. I also keep forgetting that this was made when Elizabeth Banks hadn't really headlined a movie and wasn't on 30 Rock semi-regularly. It just seems odd watching her literally just stand around, look sexy, and do math. I actually think she has like seven lines in the entire movie.
post #6 of 10
I'm a fan of Christmas movies myself and I'd say this one worked at times (the aforementioned brother support group) but mostly, felt like more of the same. I think a much better film with a similar set-up was the Will Ferrel flick, Elf. It just does a much better job of having fun with the absurdness of the Santa mythology while still being sweet enough to work for kids.

With Fred Claus, I guess part of it was casting. Giamatti is a great actor but he just doesn't work as Santa. I don't mind Vaughn as a comedic actor but there's probably dozens of other people who would have better suited this premise. Spacey is pretty solid as always and Banks and Weisz are good in some fairly thankless supporting roles.
post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy Jim View Post
I'm a fan of Christmas movies myself and I'd say this one worked at times (the aforementioned brother support group) but mostly, felt like more of the same. I think a much better film with a similar set-up was the Will Ferrel flick, Elf. It just does a much better job of having fun with the absurdness of the Santa mythology while still being sweet enough to work for kids.

With Fred Claus, I guess part of it was casting. Giamatti is a great actor but he just doesn't work as Santa. I don't mind Vaughn as a comedic actor but there's probably dozens of other people who would have better suited this premise. Spacey is pretty solid as always and Banks and Weisz are good in some fairly thankless supporting roles.
I agree with this post. I think ELF is better in almost every way and is now a DARKMITE8 household holiday staple. FRED CLAUSE might get another spin this year.
post #8 of 10
I think Giamatti's great as Santa, but I can't for the life of me figure out why he's Fred's YOUNGER brother. The whole thing would play so much better if Nick was the overachieving older brother whom Fred never had a chance against. Kudos to Santa for landing Miranda Richardson, though.

It's also monstrously bloated. This kind of thing needs to be wham bam thankyou ma'am, funny and done with in 90 minutes.
post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Merriweather View Post

This would've killed had they pushed for an R and gone for a BAD SANTA vibe. The family-friendly, saccharine stuff undoes everything.

 

Watching this again it feels like this is exactly what they were originally going for. Rewind back to 2007, they got the director of the raunchy R-Rated Wedding Crashers and Vince Vaughn known for his fast talking vulgar humor, and Paul Giamatti known for edgy indie films as Santa Claus, this had the makings for the biggest R-Rated cult Christmas movie ever! Then they must have got cold feet. I'm genuinely curious if the original script was completely different.

post #10 of 10
The head replacement fx on the lead elf never fail to weird me out in this. Unnecessary.
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