Fred Claus (PG)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner28/11/2007

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 115 mins

Fred Claus isn't especially funny but it's well made, superbly acted and entirely watchable, provided you can stomach the sentimentality levels.

What's it all about?
Vince Vaughn stars as Fred Claus, a disgruntled repo man who's grown up in the shadow of his saintly younger brother Nick (Paul Giamatti), better known as Santa Claus. When Fred needs money for a new business venture, Nick agrees to help him out on one condition: that he comes to the North Pole and works in Santa's workshop during the pre-Christmas rush.

Before long, Fred is causing chaos amongst the elves and tension between Nick and Mrs Claus (Miranda Richardson). Worse, an efficiency expert (Kevin Spacey) is hovering in the wings and threatening to shut Santa down if he incurs three strikes.

The Good
Vince Vaughn has made a career out of playing obnoxious characters with hidden hearts of gold and he's on good form here. Paul Giamatti is excellent as Santa and there's strong support from Rachel Weisz as Fred's long-suffering girlfriend and a digitally-reduced John Michael Higgins as Fred's elf roommate Willie. In addition, Kevin Spacey underplays to perfection as the officious Clyde, even if the filmmakers do turn his presence into a cheeky plug for the new Superman franchise.

The effects are fine and the script manages to inject some life into the usual cliches. There's also an impressive series of cameos for the film's funniest scene, when Fred attends Siblings Anonymous.

The Bad
The film's biggest problem is that, Siblings Anonymous aside, it's not especially funny, though the performances ensure that it is at least consistently amusing. Similarly, it's a good twenty minutes too long and you'll need a tough stomach to make it through the layers of syrupy sentimentality towards the end.

Worth seeing?
In short, Fred Claus is an entirely watchable family movie that's worth seeing for the performances. On the scale of Christmas movies past, it's not as good as Elf but it's nowhere near as bad as, say, The Santa Clause III either.

Fred Claus has been reviewed by 1 users
image
01 20,000 Days on Earth (15)

Nick Cave, Kylie Minogue, Warren Ellis, Ray Winsto...

image
02 Guardians of the Galaxy (tbc)

Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel

image
03 I Am Divine (15)

Ricki Lake, John Waters, Divine

image
04 Pudsey The Dog: The Movie (U)

David Walliams, Olivia Colman

image
05 Love Me Till Monday (15)

Georgia Maguire, Sarah-Jayne Butler, Chris Leveaux...

Content updated: 26/07/2014 20:12

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Love Me Till Monday (15)

Georgia Maguire stars as a young woman disillusioned with the new world of work and the lack of Mr Right in her life.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films

Hot Tickets

Film 4 Summer ScreenFilm 4 Summer Screen

Taking over the big screen at Somerset House again for August 2014, the Film 4 Summer Screen series brings a variety of classics and brand new films to audiences in the capital.