Fred Claus is a 2007 American fantasy comedy adventure film directed by David Dobkin, written by Dan Fogelman and Jessie Nelson, and starring Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti. The film was released on November 9, 2007, in the US and later released in the UK on November 30, 2007, by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is loosely based on the poem "A legend of Santa and his brother Fred" written by Donald Henkel. Scenes of the film were shot in Chicago's Wildwood neighborhood between Jean and Hiawatha.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||David Dobkin|
|Produced by||Joel Silver|
|Written by||Dan Fogelman|
John Michael Higgins
|Narrated by||Trevor Peacock|
|Music by||Christophe Beck|
|Edited by||Mark Livolsi|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$97.8 million|
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A baby is born, and within a few minutes of his birth, he starts saying: "Ho, ho, ho!". Mother Claus calls her son, Frederick, over to meet his new brother, whom she has decided to name Nicholas. Mother Claus lovingly refers to the new baby as her little Saint Nick. During his birthday, when Nick receives his gifts including Fred's, he decides to give them away to orphans which makes Fred angry. Mother Claus advises Fred to be a better person by stating he should be more like his brother; this in turn causes Fred to resent Nick. Feeling isolated, Fred often climbs a tree to confide his problems in a bird. On one occasion, Nick cuts down the tree, saying that now Fred can bring it inside since he liked it so much. However, the birdhouse Fred's confidant lived in is smashed, causing the bird to leave; this causes a permanent rift between Fred and Nick.
In the present day, it is revealed that when Nick becomes a saint due to all his good deeds, he, Fred, and Mother and Father Claus become frozen in time, never to age, with the same effect applying to the spouses and children as well. Nick has become the modern-day Santa Claus, giving gifts to people and Fred works as a repossession agent in Chicago to take them away. His girlfriend, Wanda, gets mad at him for forgetting that her birthday was the next day. Wanda refers to a previous birthday where Fred promised to take her to France. When Fred gets back to his own apartment, he watches TV when a young orphan boy named Samuel "Slam" Gibbons comes in. Slam talks about wanting a puppy named Macaroni for Christmas. Fred then has a bad influence on Slam, telling him that Santa is a "Megalomaniac" and is getting paid on the backside. The next day, Fred is negotiating what time he should pay for an empty building that he will attempt to transform into a packed casino. He can't get enough money to reach the due date, but he agrees anyway. He is then left wondering how he will be able to pay this bill. After setting up a phony charity organization, tension arises between him and Salvation Army santa clauses. As a result, he is attacked by countless men dressed up as Santa and after he gets arrested, he calls his brother (Saint Nick) for $5,000 bail money. He also asks for an additional $50,000 for a get-rich-quick scheme. Nick agrees to give him the bail money, but tells him that if he wants the $50,000, he has to come to the North Pole and work for it.
Soon after, an elf named Willie shows up to take Fred to the North Pole. He is the head elf and has a crush on Santa's Little Helper, Charlene. Once Fred and Willie arrive at the North Pole, Nick welcomes Fred and shows him around the North Pole. There is a snow globe in the main area of the workshop, where you can say any person's name and see if they are being naughty or nice. While Fred starts working, Nick introduces Clyde Northcut, an efficiency expert who has come to evaluate the North Pole. Clyde takes Nick to the workshop and on the way tells Nick that he has three strikes. If Nick gets three strikes, the workshop will be shut down for good. Meanwhile, the workshop is in a state of chaos because of Fred, and Clyde says that Nick's inability to control his work staff is strike one. That night at dinnertime, Nick convinces Fred to come to dinner with Mother and Father Claus and Clyde. Sitting down at the dinner table, Mother Claus continues to praise Nick, while Fred storms out and heads to Frosty's Tavern, an elf bar, where he meets Willie, who discusses his lack of self-confidence regarding Charlene. Fred teaches Willie to dance, and Willie then falls down in front of Charlene, embarrassing himself. A pep talk by Fred later lifts his spirits.
Meanwhile, Clyde deliberately sabotages the mail sorting department by shredding countless children's letters, which later gives Nick a second strike. Believing that Fred is putting Nick under stress, a family meeting is called (which Fred was tied up and taken to) with Wanda present, and Fred leaves by saying that therapy is for families who want to be together, and their family does not have that problem. When Slam is placed at the top of the most naughty list, Fred understands that Slam has just had it hard and is not naughty. He then stamps every kids' description as nice.
Furious at what Fred has done wrong, Nick ends up fighting with him, in which Nick injures his back. Angry with Nick, Fred leaves the North Pole with his $50,000, but Nick gives Fred a present to take with him. Fred waits until he returns home to open the gift, which is a birdhouse, a replacement for the one on the tree, and a note from Nick which says, "I'm sorry for cutting down your tree. Love, Nick." Fred is confused and enters a Siblings Anonymous meeting. At the end, Bill Clinton's younger half-brother, Roger Clinton Jr, makes a speech about his brother's success. Back at the North Pole, it looks like Christmas is lost. Nick is in bed and cannot make his Christmas Eve journey of delivering presents.
Willie reminds Fred that, according to a long-standing rule, only a member of the Claus family can deliver the presents and Fred qualifies. Fred begins delivering presents to children around the world and Willie joins him to assist with the flying of the sleigh and the navigation. Meanwhile, Clyde sabotages their efforts at midnight by shutting off the power, which was the only way for the North Pole to communicate to Fred and Willie, helping them navigate. While Fred and Willie attempt to finish delivering the gifts for the children, Nick talks to Clyde by realizing that when he was a boy, Clyde did not get what he wanted from Nick because he would act up due to bullying, which resulted in him growing up to be the man he is. Nick realizes, thanks to Fred, that his definition of naughty was flawed. Nick makes peace with him by giving Clyde the Superman cape he wanted as a kid but never got.
Fred stops by the foster home to visit Slam and bring him the puppy (Macaroni) he wanted. Fred faces away from Slam to hide his identity and explains to Slam that he should become a better person. As the rest of the elves anxiously wait in the tavern, Willie marches in and, with newfound confidence, he walks up to Charlene, grabs a chair to stand on, and kisses her. After Fred announces that Christmas has been saved, everyone gathers around the giant snow globe to watch the children of the world open their presents. Nick tells Fred that he is the best big brother anybody could ever ask for, and they finally make amends.
Fred returns to Wanda's house and she is initially upset to see him and tells him to leave. He refuses and states that he is moving in with her. He gives her a present. Wanda opens it to find a teddy bear holding a French flag. That night, Fred takes Wanda to France in Santa's sleigh, and they circle around the Eiffel Tower ("It's a company car. It's one of the perks." says Fred). The two continue dating, and Charlene and Willie are now happy together. By next Christmas, Slam is adopted, but Fred never stops watching out for him - even becoming the coach of his Little League Baseball team. As for Clyde, Nick hires him as an efficiency consultant and he teaches the elves how to use a spreadsheet. Nick and Mrs. Claus, as well as Nick and Fred's parents visit Fred's and Wanda's house for New Years. It is evident that Fred and his mom have grown closer. Fred has also become a true Claus; while Nick has lost a bit of weight, Fred has gained some. The movie ends by showing the bird house hung up outside Fred's window, and a bird, who looks like the one Fred befriended, perched on it.
- Vince Vaughn as Frederick "Fred" Claus
- Liam James as Young Fred
- Paul Giamatti as Nicholas "Nick"/"Santa" Claus
- Theo Stevenson as Young Nick
- Rachel Weisz as Wanda Blinkowski, Fred's girlfriend and a parking enforcement officer.
- Miranda Richardson as Mrs. Annette Claus, Nick's wife.
- Kevin Spacey as Clyde Archibald Northcutt, an efficiency expert who comes to assess the situation at the North Pole. The film's main antagonist.
- Kathy Bates and Trevor Peacock as Mother and Father Claus, Fred and Nick's parents. Peacock also serves as the narrator.
- John Michael Higgins as Willie, an elf whom Fred befriends and helps to hook up with Charlene.
- Elizabeth Banks as Charlene, a tall, blond elf whom Willie becomes enamored with.
- Bobb'e J. Thompson as Samuel "Slam" Gibbons, a young orphan boy that Fred mentors.
- Ludacris as DJ Donnie
- Allan Corduner as Dr. Goldfarb
- Frank Stallone, Roger Clinton, Jr. and Stephen Baldwin as themselves
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan (cameo) as unnamed man getting parking ticket.
Fred Claus was received poorly by critics. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an approval rating of 20% based on reviews from 142 critics. The site's consensus states: "A slew of talent is wasted in this contrived and overly sentimental Christmas film, which can't quite get the balance between slapstick humor and sentimental family moments". On Metacritic it has a score of 42 out of 100 based on reviews from 31 critics.
Brian Lowry of Variety magazine says the film has many shortcomings but most of all Vaughn and was miscast as his rapid-fire delivery and angry persona did not fit well with the story. Lowry describes it as following in the step of other feel-bad movies, "movies so tone-deaf and disagreeable as to have completely worn out their welcome by the time that gush of last-act warmth arrives."
The film grossed $18,515,473 in its first weekend, and closed on February 14, 2008 with a final gross of $72,006,777 in North America and another $25,831,572 in other territories for a total worldwide gross of $97,838,349. The film became number 1 in the UK on its first weekend, bringing in £1.93m. It held the top spot for 1 week until it was surpassed by The Golden Compass.
The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 24, 2008 in the UK, and November 25, 2008 in the US. The special features includes 25 minutes of deleted scenes and an audio commentary by director David Dobkin. The Blu-ray release includes a music video for "Ludacrismas" by Ludacris in High Definition and also a bonus disc entitled Fred Claus: Race to Save Christmas.
- "FRED CLAUS (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 2007-11-09. Retrieved 2012-01-07.
- Hamann, John. "Weekend Wrap-Up for December 7-9, 2007". Box Office Prophets. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
- "Fred Claus (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-12-11.
- "Store Archives - Page 11 of 16 - Christmas Place Blog". Christmas Place Blog. Retrieved 2015-11-27.
- "Fred Claus". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 2018-12-31.
- Lowry, Brian (6 November 2007). "Fred Claus". Variety.
- "Claus crowns UK box office chart". BBC News. December 4, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-12.