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FRED CLAUS screens! Ho-ho-ho or Ho-ho-no?

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. This movie has too much going for it to suck, right? "American Hyena" below is trying to warn us not to pay attention to the great cast and the potential of Paul Giamatti, Vince Vaughn and Kevin Spacey bouncing off each other for comedy gold. He gets pretty detailed below. I only hope the screening was so early that the movie's still unfinished and will be tighter, more efficient when we finally get to see it this November. Enjoy the review!

So…yay. Review time. Buddy and I took in a preview screening of Fred Claus in Thousand Oaks, California on Saturday. Fair warning, I'm probably going to be semi-spoilerific. Hum… Y'know, normally I sorta like Vince Vaughn. And I really like Paul Giamatti. And Kevin Spacey. Unfortunately this movie still sucks. Vaughn's patented average Joe delivery works pretty well in movies where he's playing a guy you're supposed to relate too. Thing is, this movie makes it damn near impossible to do that because, frankly, Fred Claus is an asshole. Like, reeeeeeeeeeeally irritating. There are a few characters like that in this unfortunately. Miranda Richardson turns in a screeching performance as Mrs. Claus. You can tell that it's supposed to be funny, but it's really just excruciating. At times the character on screen is seriously nails-on-chalkboard agonizing. Oh…and the ninja elves. Yes, ninja elves. They're Santa's own private secret service. It's horribly unfunny the first time and they do at least three. Actually, most of the elves are pretty irritating. John Michael Higgins as the lead elf Willy is sort of endearing, but there's a MIND NUMBINGLY unfunny DJ elf character and two other…sort-of-in-charge elves that also do a lot of screeching. Also, Higgin's character is in love with Elizabeth Bank's character, who is, for reasons never explained, the only actual human working in the entire operation of Elves. Seriously, everybody in this movie screeches at each other constantly. And none of it's funny. There's a scene somewhere around the twenty-minute mark where Vaughn's character picks a fight with about twenty Salvation Army Santas. And for about five minutes, the movie's pretty funny. Then stuff happens and Fred visits the North Pole to work for his brother (Santa) for three weeks. The why of it is totally un-important. And I mean that quite literally, it's cast aside as an after thought somewhere near the end of the film. And from there on we get about an hour or so of Fred slacking off and causing "hilarious" problems in Santa's workshop. I cannot possibly stress how painfully unfunny it all is. The audience was actually squirming uncomfortably. Total and absolute SILENCE. Anyhow, Kevin Spacey shows up and he's a BAD efficiency expert dead set to shut down the North Pole operation. There are extremely vague references to a board and an authority to which Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy must answer to, but you never really have any idea of why the fuck Santa has to listen to this guy. More stuff happens. A three strike/plot point rule against Santa is instituted, Fred saves the day. Predictable Christmas movie climax. At about an hour and a half in there's a second really funny scene involving Fred going to a "Sibling's Anonymous meeting." Brothers named Stallone, Clinton, and Baldwin all make appearances. And there's hope of humor again. It doesn't last long though. Now, to be fair, Giamatti and Spacey are great in their roles. They actually "defeat" Spacey by doing the tried and true "Santa remembers when you were a little boy" thing. And amazingly, it's the one REALLY great scene in the movie. It starts off with a gag reference to Spacey's character not getting a Superman cape one year and before you realize it, they build off that and bounce back and forth off each other in a really sparkling scene (as far as Christmas's movies go). And it's aggravating because you realize there was hope for something really great in this film at one point. Before Vince Vaughn. And the damn elves. Seriously. Ninja FUCKING Elves. And yah…there's some other stuff. Vaughn has a bond with a little semi-orphaned kid. And Rachel Weisz does…incredibly little actually as Fred's girlfriend. Kathy Bates gets pretty wasted too playing the Mom. And that's really it. The sheer waste of source material boggles the mind. It's literally Elf/Factory joke after Elf/Factory joke for most of it. Meh, I'm bitter I guess. I'm a huge Christmas movie geek and the trailer for this looked hysterical to me, but there are just too few likeable characters, no funny jokes save two scenes, and just…yah. Huge, MASSIVE disappointment on this one. Anyhow, hope y'all find this of interest. If you're still doing the moniker thing, I guess I'm American Hyena. Have a good one.

Readers Talkback
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  • July 17, 2007, 5:32 a.m. CST


    by Motoko Kusanagi

    yippie-ki-yay bitches!

  • July 17, 2007, 5:32 a.m. CST

    2 seconds....

    by Motoko Kusanagi


  • July 17, 2007, 5:36 a.m. CST

    The trailer pretty much sucked

    by Motoko Kusanagi

    and it looks like the whole movie will kinda suck, too. Which is kinda sad considering the great cast they had. But then again David Dobkin at the helm? The director of Shanghai Knights (lame sequel) and Wedding Crashers(mediocre comedy) ?

  • July 17, 2007, 5:36 a.m. CST

    I get the feeling that the supercowbell

    by Motoko Kusanagi

    can read my mind<p>*shivers*

  • July 17, 2007, 5:39 a.m. CST

    Torture Porn

    by cornponious

    Now CNN is using this phrase. I'm pretty sure this phrase originated on this site. Way to go, whoever came up with that. <p> <p> Oops. I've gone off-topic...

  • July 17, 2007, 5:42 a.m. CST

    RACHEL WEISZ is in this?

    by ImFixingtoDie

    Seriously, what the fuck? I encourage all to see THE FOUNTAIN as soon as possible. I know I'll be pulling it down from the shelf ASAP to help myself forget she's in FRED CLAUS. This is the thanks she gets for winning an Oscar?

  • July 17, 2007, 5:45 a.m. CST

    everybody in this movie screeches at each other?

    by TheBloop

    So is Dustin Diamond in this? Maybe he can make this movie something special, like Martin Short in Father of the Bride 2. This film sounds like "the GOONIES". A bunch of kids yelling all the time. And you geeks have nothing but love for that waste of a film.

  • July 17, 2007, 5:48 a.m. CST

    Motoko, David Dobkin also

    by ImFixingtoDie

    Motoko, David Dobkin also directed the underlooked CLAY PIGEONS, featuring one of Vince Vaughn's finest performances. And the first 2/3rds of WEDDING CRASHERS is comic gold.

  • July 17, 2007, 5:51 a.m. CST

    And Finally

    by ImFixingtoDie

    HO-HO-HO NOW I HAVE A MACHINE GUN. Had to be said.

  • July 17, 2007, 6 a.m. CST

    wasted chance to use warwick davies

    by Lost Prophet

    King of the little people, as an Elf! <p>mind you, it sounds like shit so I'm glad he's not in it.

  • July 17, 2007, 6:15 a.m. CST

    The trailer was very bad

    by Col. Tigh-Fighter

    Very, very bad. This just confirms it. Wow, what a waste of talent!

  • July 17, 2007, 6:30 a.m. CST


    by dundundles

    This had a great potential to be fun, but keep in mind that we are still 4 months out, plenty of time for a bit of trim and polish... but then again, I guess there is only so much polish you can give a turd.

  • July 17, 2007, 7:11 a.m. CST

    "Trailer looked hysterical?...."

    by Bert Fischer

    If you would have began the review with that statement, I wouldn't have wasted my time reading it.

  • July 17, 2007, 7:18 a.m. CST

    Kathy Bates is in this?

    by Spandau Belly

    Is Warwick Davis one of the elves?

  • July 17, 2007, 7:23 a.m. CST

    Sadly no, Belly

    by Lost Prophet

    I think it is beneath him. <p>Course, no-one wants to be beneath THE BATES. That's just scary.

  • July 17, 2007, 7:36 a.m. CST

    Nicholas Cage is THE EASTER BUNNY

    by Spandau Belly

    The could do it like Mel Gibson's PAYBACK having the Easter Bunny come back to town looking for revenge and having to team up with the Tooth Fairy (Tyrese) to get Bunny's share of his eggs back.

  • July 17, 2007, 8:14 a.m. CST

    heh. Creepy Chick from Poultergeist is THe TOOTH FAIRY

    by Lost Prophet

    Soundtrack by Nine Inch Nails

  • July 17, 2007, 8:15 a.m. CST

    Rachel Weisz will do this, but not Mummy 3?

    by theBigE

    This has looked and sounded like crap since it was first announced. <p> I'd like a movie based on Weird Al's "The Night Santa Went Crazy." He takes a big bite of Rudolph/ and says 'tastes just like chicken!'

  • July 17, 2007, 8:16 a.m. CST

    The difference between this and Mummy 3

    by Lost Prophet

    is the cast- surely. I'll bet that's why she did this

  • July 17, 2007, 8:36 a.m. CST

    actually i loved Made

    by BLWiseass

    Vaughn was an immense asshole, but its still one of my favorite performances by him. Sure the movie didn't make a whole lot of sense, but what can ya do

  • July 17, 2007, 8:39 a.m. CST

    ninja FUCKING elves

    by the beef

    I wouldn't mind seeing a ninja fuck a big group of elves...or did he mean elves that fuck ninjas? Anyway, was it me or were the two best scenes he described two scenes reminiscent of JINGLE ALL THE WAY and THE SANTA CLAUSE? Or actually, the whole "when you were a kid thing" was already used this year in RATATOUILLE.

  • July 17, 2007, 9:27 a.m. CST

    if you put 100 people in a room in every major city...

    by Charlie Murphy the whole world, and made them all watch this trailer simultaneously, i'm 98% sure the world would explode from the collective groans. that is all.

  • July 17, 2007, 9:41 a.m. CST

    "Vaughn's character picks a fight...

    by RockLobster800

    ....with about twenty Salvation Army Santas."Did that not happen in,like, Jingle All The Way? Or does my memory decieve me(its been like 6years since I saw it)?I remeber Arnie was fighting dwarves or santas but which one I cant remeber....

  • July 17, 2007, 9:45 a.m. CST

    to be shown with Eli Roth's Thanksgiving

    by Spandau Belly

    GROANHOUSE, coming this Holiday season!

  • July 17, 2007, 10:02 a.m. CST


    by Tidmore

    While I was disappointed with the trailer, the movie was surprisingly good. The cast works well, and Vince Vaughn plays the typical Vince Vaughn character, so if you like Vaughn being Vaughn, you'll enjoy the movie. Also it's a great family movie that kids will enjoy just as much as adults. Unless you're just a huge cynic you should actually enjoy this movie.

  • July 17, 2007, 10:05 a.m. CST

    Dr Gonzo

    by s0nicdeathmonkey

    That was the point of made. Vaughn wasn't supposed to be likeable. It was about how the friends you have as a child become the people they are as adults and how you deal with that. Of course, the moral of the story is that a friend, is a friend, deep down inside, even if the exterior changes. Basically, the movie is a look into that one guy who you're friends with that everyone hates. Your shlubbish, obnoxious childhood friend who you let spend the night when he' in town. Why do you do it? Because at the end of the day, if there was a gun to your head, there would be no one else you would rather have there to protect you.

  • July 17, 2007, 10:06 a.m. CST


    by Tidmore

    I was at a screening in Thousand Oaks on Saturday and unless this guy was in the earlier screening for people with small children, he's completely off base saying everyone was "squirming uncomfortably. Total and absolute SILENCE." There was laughter throughout this entire movie, I don't know if he just personally didn't like it so he's bashing it for the sake of bashing but it's just not true.

  • July 17, 2007, 10:12 a.m. CST

    The Santa fight should be on youtube.

    by Uncapie

    But, you're right, the movie sucks.

  • July 17, 2007, 10:16 a.m. CST

    Saw this preview at the cinema recently --

    by Snookeroo

    the only response from the audience was the sound of crickets chirping. This movie looks to capture everything that's wrong with Hollywood in one fell swoop.

  • July 17, 2007, 10:22 a.m. CST

    poor man's version of

    by tonamania

    the Santa Clause? Where's Tim Allen? Trailer was pretty silly - Vince gettin' down with the elves. Spacey is funny - damn fine actor - but he just keeps going from paycheck to paycheck these days. Any more stupidity comes back on this one, take a pass and watch Wedding Crashers again.

  • July 17, 2007, 10:41 a.m. CST

    Even the TRAILER didn't look funny

    by ShiftyEyedDog2

    Seriously, how is anyone surprised this sucked? The trailer made me go, "Holy shit, this is gonna suck!"

  • July 17, 2007, 10:48 a.m. CST

    Best Holiday Movie, By Far Was....

    by evolution1085

    The Hebrew Hammer... you know it to be true

  • July 17, 2007, 10:59 a.m. CST

    Sorry, should have qualified...

    by American Hyena

    The trailer I was referring to as being funny was the teaser, with Giamatti and Vaughn sitting on the couch riffing off each other. I just watched the actual trailer for the first time and can honestly say that I probably wouldn't have bothered watching the flick if I'd seen that one. And for the record, I was in the afternoon screening. Were there sprinkles of laughter here and there? Yah of course. But they were few and far between. But there were most definitely LOOOOOONG stretches of apathetic silence throughout.

  • July 17, 2007, 11:39 a.m. CST

    Exaggerated "AHHHHHHHHH" faces are not funny

    by Osmosis Jones

    And neither are Christmas movies that open the first week of FUCKING NOVEMBER.

  • July 17, 2007, 1:40 p.m. CST

    American Hyena

    by Tidmore

    Seriously are you deaf or what, because people were laughing all the way through. I'm sorry but if a free movie was as bad as you say it is, people would have just got up and left. Whose gonna stay through a horrible FREE movie? I was in that theater and there was laughter throughout the movie, and there was no one "Squirming" in their seats because it was that bad. There were no long stretches of silence either. There was laughter throughout at all the funny scenes. Why are you such a lying hater?

  • July 17, 2007, 2:01 p.m. CST

    Paul Giamatti's Santa claus looks sickly.

    by Orionsangels

    This is how this movie got green lit - Hey! What if Santa Claus had a brother? OMG! Wackiness will ensue! comedy gold!

  • July 17, 2007, 2:18 p.m. CST

    Vince Vaughn & Comedy

    by Birdys Piano Teacher

    Is enough for me. Great cast, too. I loved the trailer with just Vaughn and Giamatti.

  • July 17, 2007, 2:36 p.m. CST

    What was this rated???

    by Reynard Muldrake

    Or rather, what would your guess be? I didn't get a sense in the review...beyond something like Cody Banks (PG pap)

  • July 17, 2007, 2:43 p.m. CST

    the beef, that was a flashback...

    by jig98

    of peter o'toole's charector and that was the most heartwarming, funniest and superb 3 minutes in ratatouille. other than that, the whole "when you were a kid" thing is just creepy as FUCK. and to a few other talkbackers, the great kevin spacey is NOT the bad guy in fred claus. he's playing more of an asshole than a cartoony bad guy in a strange christmas comedy. there never were, or can never be a real bad guy in any good christmas flick. just misunderstood creeps, assholes or burglars. or "obstacles" who either turn good under circumstances or because kids fucking rule the world and the season. and fucking ludacris as an elf is never a good sign but could be fun to watch in small doses {like the trailer.}

  • July 17, 2007, 2:47 p.m. CST

    evolution1085, best holiday movie by far...

    by jig98

    is edward scissorhands by a small margin. or as i like to refer to it as vincent price's final screen appearance. i also like elf with ron burgandy, but that's another story.

  • July 17, 2007, 3:48 p.m. CST

    Vince Vaughn = 1 trick pony & the trick is getting old

    by PoopAgoose

    is this the 4th or 5th movie he goes through it semi-agitated and frantically rattling of the funny (?) lines they've written for him? NEXT?

  • July 17, 2007, 3:49 p.m. CST

    "Shanghai Knights"...

    by Fixxxer actually a pretty darn good movie, if you ask me. It's the only American film that's really let Jackie Chan do his thing, and it's maybe the classiest production Chan has EVER been in. I also found it to be far funnier than the original and both of the "Rush Hour" flicks (which I do realize is no great feat). All that being said, "Fred Claus" looks like an absolute train wreck.

  • July 17, 2007, 4:06 p.m. CST

    I will never pay to see this,

    by Tiki-421


  • July 17, 2007, 4:48 p.m. CST

    Best Christmas Movie = BAD SANTA

    by Yeti

    And if you want a "feel good" one that would be the 1951 version of Scrooge with Alister Sim

  • July 17, 2007, 5:18 p.m. CST


    by BringingSexyBack

    I laughed so hard I peed across three rows.

  • July 17, 2007, 5:20 p.m. CST

    What's wrong with NINJA ELVES?

    by BringingSexyBack

    They were pretty funny in the trailer. Ninja Elves. HAHA

  • July 17, 2007, 6:38 p.m. CST


    by RockLobster800

    are you tryin to imply that Bad Santa is not a feel good movie? I had tears in my eyes at the end of the fucker!

  • July 17, 2007, 8:11 p.m. CST

    Frank Stallone?? WTF??

    by BetaRayBill07

    If only we could see a deathmatch between Frank Stallone and Roger Clinton...Frank with his lethal singing against Roger's unlimited supply of booze.....

  • July 17, 2007, 8:43 p.m. CST

    what a crock...

    by stratch

    the premise for this sounds kind of like you, me and dupree but with a christmas theme. whatever it sounds like it needs the kid from christams story to turn up with an uzi and make ribbons out of every miserable person involved. As for the wasted talent, i just saw a trailer for rush hour 3 with roman polanski as the bad guy so now i know everybody has a price, and the only winners here are probably the coke dealers.

  • July 17, 2007, 9:55 p.m. CST


    by Mattyboy122

    I donno what kind of a world you live in, but your reasoning of 'if it's a bad free movie, who's going to stay?' is...well...flawed. I would think people are more likely to stay for a free movie (if you gave somebody crappy food for free, I would say many would take it, for example). However, if they were paying for a shitty movie and hated it, they'd be more willing to leave and demand a refund (if you were paying for and expecting lobster and got spam, you'd naturally ask for your money back). At any rate, I know American Hyena personally and the guy isn't a 'lying hater.' That said, I was really looking forward to this flick (am I the only one that thought Wedding Crashers was, through and through, one of the best and funniest comedies in years?), and the teaser was promising, but this latest trailer is pretty awful. Really a shame.

  • July 17, 2007, 11:35 p.m. CST

    Vince Vaughn playing an asshole?

    by ChrisPC24

    What a stretch! The trailer was irritating enough; I can't handle two hours of this crap. This year is turning out to be a very uneven year for movies. Either they're turds or classics, with very few in between.

  • July 18, 2007, 12:24 a.m. CST


    by TAF

    I'm a sucker for Christmas movies. Yes, I watch Miracle on 34th Street & It's a Wonderful Life & Die Hard every year. Someday someone is going to make a really good Santa Claus movie. A few have come close, the first Tim Allen was pretty good. When we saw the trailer before Potter, everyone I was with shrugged and said, "Looks lame." This movie contains such great talent, what a major waste.

  • July 18, 2007, 1:18 a.m. CST

    the Teaser was Great! but the trailer was Dreadful

    by George Newman

    Worst part of trailer: Montage with Vaughn dancing with elves, on a table, in the factory, while the camera spins around them. There is nothing funny about it. I hate moments like that in Kid "Comedies".

  • July 18, 2007, 1:22 a.m. CST


    by blue1622

    Owen from Torchwood is in this...that's the first thing I thought when I saw the old people handing out passes for this at the Janns Mall...I almost took one, being a massive Torchwood fan, then I remembered the kind of people who show up free screenings, and turned up my nose. Free = people full of AIDS, and unsavories. No thanks, I'll pay the $15 or whatever to see it at the Bridge in November, even if it blows.

  • July 18, 2007, 4:37 a.m. CST


    by TheRedRightHand

    Or as it will better be known: 20-oh-seven, the year cinema anally exploded and released a mess of sequels and bile upon humanity. <br> <br> In fact, I was in the Odeon cinema the other day and they treated me to a montage of all the big releases of the year stating, "2007: The year for cinema" Did anyone else in the UK see this? As if we were being encouraged to watch all the shit that's been put out recently. <br> <br> Tragic.

  • July 18, 2007, 5 a.m. CST


    by spud mcspud

    I think the whole 2007 ad is to convince us all NOT to buy pirate DVDs and to go spend all our cash at the cinema. Well, having spent £6 to see that POS Ghost Rider earlier this year, more and more I'm thinking about the local market and the guy with the suitcase full of shiny discs.<P> You're right: there's a LOT of shit coming out this year. But I think there'll be some gems in the dirt too: DEATH SENTENCE, SHOOT 'EM UP, to name two. Don't abandon hope just yet.<P> Shame this looks like shit - the concept was good on paper.

  • July 18, 2007, 5:05 a.m. CST

    Ninja Elves? Rip off...

    by spud mcspud

    Back in the day when all Sky Movies would show in the UK from November onwards were made-for-TV Christmas movies by the likes of Hallmark, I definitely remember seeing one (which was pretty good really) that involved Santa getting caught by the cops and slammed in jail. He ended up getting freed by an elite special forces Elf Unit that used candy-cane and tinsel nunchakus and used special acid tinsel to melt the bars of the prison cell in order to spring Santa. Okay movie, but that was a good scene!<P> So, basically, FRED CLAUS is ripping off the ninja elves. It's been done, kiddies.<P> My best loved obscure Christmas movie: STEALING CHRISTMAS. It's a Hallmark movie, Tony Danza - TONY FUCKIN' DANZA! - is running from a bank robbery he pulled with his friend. Friend gets caught, he gets away. He works as a store Santa in a small town, rents room from the still-the-hotness Lea Thompson (yes, Marty McFly's mom). More stuff happens. It's actually pretty good, but it has Lea Thompson - LEA FUCKIN' THOMPSON!! - in it. Immediately it's a classic.<P> Kidding. Best Christmas movies: DIE HARD, LETHAL WEAPON, MUPPET'S CHRISTMAS CAROL and SCROOGED. Bill Murray's speech at the end gets me every time.

  • Nov. 3, 2007, 10:26 a.m. CST


    by whatever57

    ....and he goes to great lengths to deny it. That is why he never has a stable relationship. The relationship with Aniston was a complete lie for media publicity.