Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||David Dobkin|
|Produced by||Joel Silver|
|Screenplay by||Dan Fogelman|
|Story by||Dan Fogelman|
|Music by||Christophe Beck|
|Edited by||Mark Livolsi|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$97.8 million|
Fred Claus is a 2007 American fantasy comedy film directed by David Dobkin, screenplay by Dan Fogelman and a story 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. It received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $97 million worldwide against the production budget of $100 million.
As a child, Frederick "Fred" Claus grew up in the shadow of his younger brother Nicholas "Nick". Due to Nick's selflessness and good will, he became a saint, which gave him and his family immortality. Fred's jealousy of Nick and his parents' preference for him cause a rift between the brothers.
In the present, Nick has become the modern-day Santa Claus, delivering gifts to the children of the world. Fred has become a repossession agent in Chicago. Fred lives alone and is friends with orphan Samuel “Slam” Gibbons. After his girlfriend Wanda breaks up with him, Fred is arrested for impersonating a Salvation Army employee in an attempt to raise seed money for an illegal casino plan. Fred asks Nick for bail and seed money. Nick gives him the bail money, but will only give him the seed money, if Fred comes the North Pole to work for it.
Head elf Willie escorts Fred to the North Pole. Nick gives Fred the task of assigning children as ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ based on their behavior. Meanwhile, efficiency expert Clyde Northcutt from the government agency that monitors activities of supernatural entities like Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy arrives to analyze the North Pole's dwindling performance on a three-strike assessment. After Fred starts a party in the workshop (switching the radio from "Here Comes Santa Claus"—which was played repeatedly—to Elvis Presley's Rubberneckin'), Clyde gives the first strike. Fred attends a dinner with his parents, but their constant appraisal of Nick causes him to storm out.
Meanwhile, Clyde shreds children's letters and arranges for the blame to fall on Fred. The lack of backup copies leads to a second strike. After seeing Slam on the top spot of the naughty list, Fred realizes his bad behavior is a consequence of being bullied at the orphanage (along with some bad advice from Fred) and that Slam is still a good kid. Fred assigns every child as nice.
The brothers get into a fight over Fred's decision, with Nick injuring his back. Unable to now produce enough gifts for every good child, the North Pole falls far behind schedule, leading Clyde to assign the third strike – shutting down the workshop. Fred leaves, taking his money and a gift from Nick. When he gets home Fred finds the gift to be a replica of a birdhouse he had as a child that Nick accidentally chopped down. Realizing his brother still cares about him, he uses the seed money to make his way back to the North Pole.
Fred motivates the elves to make as many gifts as possible in 10 hours. Because of his injury, Nick is unable to deliver gifts. Feeling guilty, Fred decides to deliver the presents (as only a Claus can deliver the gifts). He reminds Nick that most of those kids aren't bad, but good kids going through bad situations, and that every child deserves a gift on Christmas. Fred gets the workshop to quickly make simple gifts so that every child gets a toy. Fred and Willie begin to deliver the gifts but Clyde sabotages their efforts and fires all of the elves. Nick realizes that Clyde was also bullied as a child, which caused him to become troubled. Nick apologizes to Clyde for always putting him on the naughty list and gives him the Superman cape he always asked for as a child.
Disguised as Santa, Fred visits Slam and gives him the dog he wanted for Christmas. Fred tells Slam to become a better person. With every gift delivered, Fred returns to the North Pole while Willie finally starts a relationship with the tall elf, Charlene. Fred and Nick make amends. Clyde starts working at the North Pole with a change of heart. Slam is adopted. Fred repairs his relationship with Wanda. The next Christmas, the whole Claus family is happily reunited, including Chirp Chirp who now lives in the new birdhouse.
- 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, Santa's head elf whom Fred befriends and helps to hook up with Charlene.
- Elizabeth Banks as Charlene, a tall, blond elf with whom Willie becomes enamored.
- 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.
On Rotten Tomatoes, Fred Claus holds an approval rating of 21% based on 143 reviews, with an average rating of 4.29/10. The website's critics 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 weighted average score of 42 out of 100 based on 31 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
Brian Lowry of Variety magazine said the film has many shortcomings but most of all Vaughn 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 films, "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 one week until it was surpassed by The Golden Compass.
The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 25, 2008. 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.
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- 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. Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2015-11-27.
- "Fred Claus (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved December 25, 2020.
- "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Fred Claus" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
- Lowry, Brian (6 November 2007). "Fred Claus". Variety.
- "Claus crowns UK box office chart". BBC News. December 4, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-12.