Fred Claus
Directed by David Dobkin
(Warner Home Video)

Buy it at Amazon!

You give me a holiday movie starring lanky and lovable Vince Vaughn and the amazing ‘I-can-do-just-about-anything’ Paul Giamatti, mix in a little Kevin Spacey for extra Xmas spice and I’ll take a nice big drink of this new holiday classic. Fred Claus appeared last year in theaters for the season and now it’s out on DVD and it’s worth picking up for you and your family’s delight.

For a cute little holiday movie the story of Fred Claus is relatively unique. Santa has a brother, played by Vaughn, who is not really privy to the elves-presents-good-naughty/nice-list thang; he lives his life in the ‘real’ world, but by some rather sticky circumstances, Fred Claus gets up to the North Pole. A new efficiency expert has been hired in Christmas town, played by a buttoned-up Kevin Spacey and things are not as good for Giamatti’s Santa and his elves as they should be. Vaughn’s slow discovery of the inner workings of Santa’s workshop are a delight (this is what’s really gonna grab the younger ones) and the visuals are pretty much as stunning as you’d expect them to be. Giamatti’s overly positive Santa is a delight and Vaughn plays his usual bubbling frustrated everyman just about perfectly. There is a great scene, when Vaughn visits a brother’s counseling group that really shows off Vaughn’s range, and it’s probably the funniest scene in the film.

Despite all the jocularity, this movie does have a heart. You really feel Giamatti and Vaughn are the brothers Cringle and there is a particular scene near the end of the film where we finally learn Kevin Spacey’s character’s motivation that will bring tears to your eyes, no matter your age.

The Fred Claus DVD is a little light on bonus material. There’s no making-of’s here, just about a half hour of extra scenes and commentary by the director, David Dobkin. But the disc does give you the option of both widescreen and full-screen formats.

Fred Claus is (and I hate to say this) fun for the whole family. It’s a solid little movie, maybe not It’s Wonderful Life…but then again there is only one It’s a Wonderful Life. If this one became one of your family’s newest Xmas ‘must sees’ I don’t think you’ll be any the worse for wear.

Ralph Greco, Jr.

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