DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


David Dobkin
Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, John Rachel Weisz, Kathy Bates, Kevin Spacey
Writing Credits:
Dan Fogelman, Jessie Nelson

Santa Claus's bitter older brother Fred is forced to move to the North Pole to help Santa and the elves prepare for Christmas in exchange for cash.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend:
$18,515,473 on 3603 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 115 minutes
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 11/25/08

• Audio Commentary with Director David Dobkin
• Deleted Scenes
• “Elves Tell All” Featurette
• “Sibling Rivalry” Featurette
• “Meet the Other Claus” Featurette
• “Vince and Paul Fireside Chats” Featurettes
• Music Video


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Fred Claus [Blu-Ray] (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 7, 2017)

At least in concept, 2007’s Fred Claus sounds like a fun time. Whether the reality lives up to the idea remains to be seen.

Fred Claus stars Vince Vaughn as the title character, Santa’s brother. In a childhood prologue, we learn that little Fred (Liam James) always suffered in the shadow of his “saintly” younger brother Nicholas (Theo Stevenson). This makes Fred bitter and angry.

From there we leap ahead centuries to see Fred today. (As the film mentions, Santa and his clan don’t age from the point he formally earned sainthood.)

Set about a month before Christmas, Fred now works as a repo man in Chicago and dates meter maid Wanda (Rachel Weisz), though he seems to be a pretty awful and unreliable boyfriend. Fred tries to run various moneymaking scams but never pulls off any of them.

An effort to open his own off-track betting shop leaves Fred in need of $50,000 by December 22m and he even resorts to performing as a street corner Santa to scam pedestrians. This lands him in jail and no options other than to pester Santa (Paul Giamatti) for bail money – and he tries to claim that needed 50 grand as well.

Nick agrees to hand over the big bucks, but only if Fred comes to the North Pole for a visit. Desperate for the money, Fred does so, and the film follows his relationship with Santa along with a mix of other complications.

If you want evidence that audiences will see virtually any Christmas-oriented family flicks, Fred gives us ample proof. While the film’s $72 million gross didn’t set any fires, it added up to about $71.9 million more than this piece of dreck deserved.

How could so much talent make such a terrible movie? I’ve seen bigger wastes of a good cast, but not many.

In addition to the popular Vaughn, we find three Oscar winners via Weisz, Kevin Spacey and Kathy Bates, and both Giamatti and Miranda Richardson have earned Oscar nominations. In addition, solid performers like John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks show up in supporting roles.

With all that, how does Fred turn into such a dud? Most of the actors sleepwalk through their roles, as they seem to realize the general crumminess of the project and act down to the material.

Vaughn runs on cruise control, as he throws out the usual fast-talking shtick he patented back with Swingers. He almost feels like a parody of himself here.

All at once, Fred gives us too much and too little story. Its premise really acts as the only thing to muster our attention, and that’s not enough to carry a nearly two-hour film.

Once you get past the wacky idea that Santa has a bitter older brother, you won’t find much substance. Fred could’ve worked fine as a Saturday Night Live sketch or maybe even a half-hour TV special, but it doesn’t fly for such a long running time.

I think the filmmakers realized this, so they threw in one extraneous subplot after another. Fred lacks any semblance of focus, as it rambles from one pointless thread to another. Since it can’t fill its running time with a single good plot, it attempts to distract us with other antics.

This doesn’t work, and even when Fred finds something clever, it falters. For instance, at one point Fred attends a “brothers of famous guys” support group that features some fun cameos. This is a great idea for a moment, but the movie won’t let it go, so it beats the gag into the ground.

All of this make Fred Claus utterly charmless and generally irritating, as the smattering of mildly creative sequences become buried among all the witless dreck. Maybe this would’ve been a good short program, but there’s not nearly enough here to flesh out almost two hours.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus B

Fred Claus appears in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray disc. Though not stellar, the visuals satisfied.

Sharpness was usually fine. Some softness interfered with a few wide or interior shots, but these usually brought us nice delineation and accuracy.

No shimmering or jaggies appeared, but some light edge haloes cropped up at times. Print flaws remained absent.

Colors kicked to life when appropriate, mainly during perkier Christmas-oriented scenes. At times, the palette remained intentionally drab, but when the movie needed brighter tones, they came across with nice vivacity.

Blacks appeared fairly deep and dark, while shadows seemed reasonably smooth and clear. This never became a great image, but it seemed more than satisfactory.

The film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundfield focused mostly on the front spectrum, and music presented the most prominent element. The score showed good stereo imaging, and we got some general ambience most of the time. Some action scenes added pizzazz to the package and used the surrounds, but I didn’t find a whole lot to impress me here.

Audio quality was fine. Speech sounded distinctive and natural, without edginess or other issues. Effects didn’t have much to do, but they were acceptable for what they offered.

Music appeared reasonably full and rich. There wasn’t enough here to merit a grad above a “C+”, though, so don’t expect a memorable soundtrack.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? Audio was identical – literally, as both discs shared the same Dolby Digital mix. I docked the Blu-ray some points because the format should provide a lossless option.

On the other hand, visuals offered radical improvements. The DVD provided shockingly bad picture quality, whereas the Blu-ray looked quite good. The Blu-ray easily topped the ugly DVD.

The Blu-ray repeats the DVD’s extras and adds exclusives. Also on the DVD, an audio commentary from director David Dobkin offers a running, screen-specific piece that looks at the movie’s opening and its tone, visual choices and effects, cast and performances, characters, story, and the tale’s development, shot design, sets and locations, music, and a few other production specifics.

I may not care for the movie, but Dobkin offers a pretty good little of Fred Claus. He covers a nice array of subjects and does so in a concise manner.

Of course, a bit of the usual praise and happy talk emerge, but Dobkin never overindulges in these areas. Instead, he delivers an enjoyable and informative view of the film.

Another repeat from the DVD, 13 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 25 minutes, 30 seconds. As expected, these offer a mixed bag. Some of them are pretty good, while others seem less endearing. Actually, I was surprised how many I liked, a fact that increases my suspicions that Fred Claus would’ve worked better as a short program.

No, that doesn’t mean I think these clips should’ve been presented in the final cut of the flick. It’s already too long, so another 25 minutes of footage would’ve made things worse. However, when these shots are seen in isolation, they’re reasonably entertaining.

A little of Fred goes a long way; when the segments are removed from the full package, they prove reasonably entertaining much of the time. Fans will definitely want to give them a look, though I could live without the three barely different introductions to “DJ Donnie”, as only the music he dances to changes.

The remaining extras are new to the Blu-ray, and these begin with the eight-minute, 59-second Pause for Claus: Elves Tell All. Hosted by “Willie the Elf”, it features the cast in character as they discuss the operation at the North Pole. It’s actually moderately amusing, mainly due to the talents of the actors.

During the nine-minute, 27-second Sibling Rivalry, we hear from Dobkin, producer Jessie Nelson and actors Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, Frank Stallone, Stephen Baldwin, and Roger Clinton. They discuss the competition between Fred and Nick as well as cast/performances and the notion of sibling conflict in general. A few decent nuggets emerge but it’s mostly fluff.

Meet the Other Claus lasts 13 minutes, four seconds and features Dobkin, Giamatti, Vaughn, Nelson, Higgins, Richardson, Banks, producer Joel Silver, production designer Allan Cameron, and actors Bobb’e J. Thompson, Rachel Weisz, Miranda Richardson, and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges. “Meet” offers an overview of cast/characters/story along with sets/locations, and Doblin’s impact on the production. A few nuggets emerge but not much substance shows up in this puffy reel.

Under Vince and Paul Fireside Chats, we get five snippets with a total running time of four minutes, 10 seconds. They reply to some inane questions, but their chemistry and wit make the clips fun.

A music video shows up as well. Ludacrismas features Ludacris – obviously! – and just plays the song over movie clips. Skip it.

With a stellar cast and a clever concept, Fred Claus could’ve been a winner. Instead, it offers an experience so insipid and banal that it made me long for the relative pleasures of a mediocrity like The Santa Clause. The Blu-ray offers generally good picture with average audio and supplements. The premise and stars might tempt you to check out Fred, but don’t give into that temptation - avoid this lump of coal.

To rate this film please visit the DVD review of FRED CLAUS

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main