Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fred Clause

This is 2007's answer to The Santa Clause franchise. This movie deals with Santa's family, including his older brother, Fred. Good holiday movies have been in short supply in recent years, and this addition at least makes an effort to rectify this. It's not entirely successful, but at least it's not "Jingle All the Way"

Paul Giamatti was an interesting choice for Santa. It works in that he brings a more realistic tone to the character, though he sometimes comes across more as a curmudgeon than jolly old Saint Nick. Maybe it's just that Giamatti timbre we've all come to know. Fred is typical Vince Vaughan- the slacker with a heart of gold. At least here, there's actually motivation for his character to act the way he does. His entire life he's been upstaged by his younger brother. After a series of misfortunes, he goes to the North Pole to help Santa prepare for Christmas. This could not come at a worse time. Clyde (Kevin Spacey) is an efficiency expert sent by the board to determine whether they are going to keep Santa Clause on or not. I'm not sure what "board" he represents, but he said they already dumped the Easter Bunny, so maybe it's some Christian/Hallmark board of directors? Regardless, this is a pretty funny concept. As is absolutely required with this premise, Fred proceeds to turn the North Pole upside down.

You can tell what movie this is from the end of the exposition. The lines stating that with Sainthood comes immortality for you and all your family, and that none of you age, sums up the mentality of the movie. Any questions about plot holes or unbelievability are to be answered by "magic."

The movie drags a bit as it gets closer to the end,and the 2 hour running time might bore some of the younger ones- especially for a cookie cutter Christmas movie. However the performances by Giamatti, Spacey, and Kathy Bates (as Santa and Fred's mother) can be appreciated by older audiences. It seems that they main problem with the movie is that it tries to split its target audience, not fully appealing to either one. Sight gags are a plenty when elves are involved, and the reconciliation of the Fred and Santa attempts to create a theme of family values. Nothing really pans out, though. Not a great movie, but as far as holiday fair goes- not terrible.


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