Fred Claus (2007)
My Rating : ***
Sibling rivalry takes on a new dimension in director David Dobkin’s (WEDDING CRASHERS, CLAY PIGEONS) third collaboration with actor Vince Vaughn, FRED CLAUS. Ever since his younger brother, Nicholas (Paul Giamatti), was born, it seems that nothing Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn) does is good enough. Nicholas literally becomes a saint and is beloved by millions worldwide, but Fred is just a regular Joe.
When Fred finds himself in need of big money in a hurry, little brother Santa is the only one he can turn to. Soon, Fred is working at the North Pole to earn some quick cash and shaking things up with the elves to the delight of efficiency expert Clyde Northcutt (Kevin Spacey), who is on a mission to close down Santa’s operation. Can the dueling Claus brothers work together to save Christmas? A sweet lesson is thrown in amongst the sibling rivalry and hijinx: there are really no naughty children at Christmas, just kids who may need a little or love or a second chance. Vaughn plays a character familiar to us now, fast-talking but likable with good intentions. He’s at his best when teaching the elves the merits of rock & roll, or talking himself out of sticky situations.
Giamatti is endearing as Santa Claus, who compensates for the stress of his job by overeating. Spacey’s emotionally frozen Clyde Northcutt harks back to WILLY WONKA’s Slugworth as a villain. Frank Stallone, Roger Clinton, and Stephen Baldwin appear in the film’s funniest scene as siblings with rivalry issues. Rounding at the cast are Miranda Richardson as Santa’s wife, Kathy Bates as Mother Claus, Elizabeth Banks as Santa’s assistant, John Michael Higgins as Wiilie the Head Elf, Rachel Weisz as Fred’s girlfriend, and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as DJ Donnie.