Review: Fred Claus is Abysmal

Fred Claus sucks extremely hard. In fact, were this some sort of sucking contest, I could see Fred Claus receiving first prize, with a big dumb grin attached, the glee for being terrible evident on its idiot face. It's actually fairly amazing that this level of futility is for a film that's been hyped for a year, features three Oscar winners (and five nominees), and has a decent concept. Yet, there it is, completely messed up and unfunny, a blight upon my Christmas spirit. Why? Luckily movie science provides us an answer. Fred Claus mingles fantasy and reality in a way which had to have been thought up by a very naughty child.

The story is as old as time itself. No, just joshing ya. Fred Claus is the brother of Santa, or Nicholas Claus. The movie starts out, inexplicably, with Fred and Nic as kids. It’s clearly the original story of Saint Nick which I’m guessing is at least a few hundred years old. So we’re treated to a ten minute opening which the movie sums up with, I kid you not, "It's a little known fact that saints and their family members don't age." Boom – we're whisked off to Chicago and Vince Vaughn (Fred). It's such a silly and pointless opening that you know you're in for doom. Why not just start the movie? Do any of us need the logic behind what is in fact a fairy tale? To quote Charlie Brown during this holiday season "Good grief."

Anyway, Fred is living in Chicago and is sullied on the whole idea of Christmas because his little brother is Santa. He’s jealous of Santa, jealous that their parents love Nicholas more. Which is pretty reasonable if you think about it. But Fred is also a hustler, a bah humbug cynic looking for a quick score. He ends up needing his little brother for money and sets up a trip to the North Pole.

The central conflict of the story comes from that visit to the North Pole, and it's where the movie really careens off the track. You see, Santa, the North Pole, and the whole gift giving thing are in danger of being shut down by Kevin Spacey. Why? No idea. The movie doesn't bother explaining either, but Spacey is a shadowy accountant type sent from whomever is in charge of financing Santa's annual gift giving efforts. It truly doesn't make any sense, and the more you think about it the more your head will hurt. Wait, Santa has private funding? Why? Who? Huh? It's a mingling of a fantasy, which has been fine up until this point, with a reality that makes no sense. Poor form boys.

There’s no reason to see this. Ever. Not on DVD, not for free, not as a date. It's not very funny and it makes no sense. Other than that I really loved it. Merry Christmas!

Grade: D