Aside from the tacky subway movie posters reminiscent of 2003’s “Elf” with Will Ferrell, and the previews that just didn’t quite seem to give many details of the plot, director David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”) brings us an entertaining holiday story, “Fred Claus.” It proves itself to be a wholesome comedy that is suitable for all ages, and even comes equipped with the special, Vince Vaughn-brand adlibbing that makes every one of his movies what it is. “Fred Claus” begins with the standard “a long time ago, in a land far away” story explaining the birth of Nick, Fred’s younger brother, and their adolescence. Fred begins to take a dislike to his brother, as Nick is always getting praise from his parents and Fred is always the recipient of questions like, “Why can’t you be more like your brother?”
Fred, Vince Vaughn, works for a moving company and wants to rent out an empty building to turn into an off-track betting studio, but needs $50,000. After seeing the Salvation Army Santa Claus getting donations, he assumes the identity of a fake organization to get money, and soon gets arrested. He calls his brother Nick, played by Paul Giamatti, who is Santa Claus, for bail. He can’t say no.
After Fred tries to scam out the rest of the money he needs, Nick uses “tough love” and says that he will give him the money only if Fred helps him prepare for Christmas and pay a visit. Soon, an auditor comes to review Santa’s progress and threatens to shut him down if he cannot produce enough presents for every child. After Fred deems every child “nice,” Santa and his elves have to produce enough presents, and Santa becomes depressed. Fred is determined to help his brother, and then he has to deliver the presents, otherwise Santa will be shut down.
The comedy in this movie is PG rated, but can still catch the attention of older viewers, and it seems that any other actor wouldn’t have made the role as good as Vince Vaughn did. He seemed to be the perfect person for the movie. Vaughn’s adlibbing and the way his character just doesn’t fit in at Santa’s workshop make this movie worth seeing.
Dobkin, who is no stranger to Vaughn and his comedies, has done it again, this time creating a solid holiday comedy.
3 1/2 out of 4 stars