‘Fred Claus’ is setting Christmas movie standards


“Fred Claus opened Today.”:Photo Courtesy: Warner Bros. Pictures/MCT

Mikhail Chernyavsky

November is here, which means it is time to kick off the Christmas season. What better way to do so then with a new Christmas movie? No Christmas season is complete without a new quirky story about good old Saint Nick. Doesn’t the jolly red guy and the magic of the season just warm your tummy in a way no other time can?

Better yet, ask the man dropkicking a singing Santa Clause lawn ornament. You know it is Christmas time when half of Chicago’s Santa’s are chasing this guy across the city. Why all the bitterness towards the fat guy? Well, imagine if that holiday icon was your younger brother.

Vince Vaughn is this year’s scrooge as Santa’s younger brother Fred Clause. Promising to be the best big brother ever, Fred falls short, to say the least. All his efforts never seem to be enough for his mother (Kathy Bates), who continuously compares Fred to his younger brother Nicolas (Paul Giamatti). As the two siblings grow older, Nick becomes more saintly and Fred becomes bitter and naughty.

After a couple hundred years, Nick is still giving while Fred is taking as a repo man. After a few more bad choices, Fred finds himself in prison. With no one else to call, Fred gives his jolly little brother a ring. In order to get bailed out, Fred promises to go to the North Pole for a visit to work off his debt.

The film plays on an all too obvious theme; family togetherness during the Christmas season. We are given a dysfunctional family that would have you wondering if they are Jewish, and a rivalry between two siblings that are more a like then they are different. How sweet. However worn out and overdone this scenario may seem, it is done surprisingly well.

Vince Vaughn is his usual self, really playing the same character he does in any film. Although it is nothing new or surprising from Vaughn, one must admit he does a good job. His comedic timing is right on, as always.

Playing the oblivious loving brother, who only sees the good in others, Paul Giamatti is Santa Claus. Not that it was too much of a challenge, but Giamatti as Santa Clause makes Tim Allen look like nothing more than a little helper. No matter the role, Giamatti always embodies his characters with a distinct life. Giamatti is enjoyable and will have you rolling with his subtle and quick wit.

Oscar winner Kathy Bates is despicably wonderful as Mother Claus. As sweet as this woman may appear, she only makes you want to clench your fist as she corrects Fred. Bates plays a real mother who anyone can relate to. Everything she says is out of love to better her son. However, the way she says things makes you want to beat her with a giant peppermint candy cane.

The rest of the cast does a great job adding to the film’s chemistry, and the oh-so-sweet and cutesy at times, comedy. Some of the film is surreal in sense that you see parts of your family life on the screen.

With a younger brother of my own, it is all too relatable to see sibling rivalry escalade in any form. The movie holds true to the cliché Christmas theme of family is family, no matter what the circumstances.

The subplots of love, and the possibility of having the North Pole shutdown to outsource Christmas to another country, move the story right along seamlessly.

“Fred Clause” is like “A Christmas Story” just focused on the Claus family. It is funny and witty, and kicks off the holiday movie season right. It is a movie that brothers and sisters will enjoy together, because sometimes it’s nice to stop the fighting and enjoy watching someone else do it.

Mikhail Chernyavsky can be reached at [email protected]