Media Maven: “Fred Claus”

Media Maven: “Fred Claus”

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Fred Claus               
Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Rachel Weisz, Kathy Bates, Kevin Spacey


Effort: A+  
Performance: D-  
Final Grade: C-

“Fred Claus” is the long awaited holiday film that has been advertised for some time. Every effort is made on set design, costuming, backdrops and hiring competent actors to make this a Christmas movie with real heart.

Too bad it falls flat with so many distractions. The multi-story plot prevents the desired outcome of a cozy, homespun Christmas film. For starters, Vince Vaughn plays an angry character throughout the entire movie. Kevin Spacey plays a sniveling villain. Kathy Bates plays a mother who favors one son over the other.

Elizabeth Banks plays the other human at the North Pole who is not a bona fide elf or related to the Claus family. We don’t know why she is there and taller than all of the other elves. But it wouldn’t be a far stretch to suspect she is there as eye candy for the male adults. In every scene, Charlene (Elizabeth Banks) is shot with ample cleavage; while all of the other female characters are dressed in normal attire.

To its merit, the film offers a gorgeous holiday fantasy of the North Pole, with lights, snowflakes, an impressive toy workshop, flying sleigh and reindeer. If only the rest of the movie had such detail for authenticity. Two secondary characters, John Michael Higgins as Willie the chief elf and Ludacris playing DJ Donnie of the North Pole have their heads transposed in every scene. It looks akin to an amateur film maker pasting these actors’ heads on their elf bodies throughout the entire film. (Talk about racial profiling … Ludacris is the only black elf.)

Paul Giamatti and Rachel Weisz in their performances give strength to this film. Giamatti plays a kindhearted, benevolent Santa. Weisz plays Vaughn’s girlfriend. Even with the best intentions of the entire cast, the multiple story lines, the convoluted script, the forced sentimentality near the end – it still serves to make this movie as enjoyable as a piece of stale Christmas fruitcake.

Rating: Two Chic Stars

Jan’s Movie Rating System:
5 – Top notch entertainment
4 – Compelling, Heartwarming, Thrilling, Comical
3 – The a) story b) actors c) special effects saved/made this movie.
2 – If you are bored watch it, or wait for DVD
1 – Don’t bother. Too morose, too violent, too blasé, an enigma.