Family feel-good film twists Christmas story

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“My brother is Santa Claus,” Fred says.

“Fred Claus,” in theaters now, is more than just a “Santa Claus wins and every child wakes up with their most-wanted gifts” Christmas story. Although the film’s 116-minute run is predictable, it throws twists and turns at the cast and audience that keep everyone entertained.

The most notable thing about “Fred Claus” is it expands beyond Santa, Mrs. Claus and the man for whom it is titled, Santa’s big brother Fred. This time, the Clauses, including mom and dad, experience the joys and frustrations of a normal family, including family counseling and later trips to “Siblings Anonymous.”

The stereotypical trouble-free Claus family is, in this movie, plagued by dinner table fights, brothers hurling insults, as well as snowballs at each other, and a fight between a boyfriend and girlfriend. And it’s all intertwined with the Fred-must-save-Christmas story.
This style gives Christmas movies a fresh perspective, one that other producers and movie makers will have trouble living up to.

Vince Vaughn, as Fred, plays the role well. There is nothing sillier than a six foot 5 inches tall man sleeping in a bed made for a waist-tall elf.

However, Vaughn’s character is similar to his previous roles. As in his other comedies, such as “Wedding Crashers,” he frequently delivers fast-talking, spit-emitting monologues. It is probably better to call them rampages, and they are laden with Vaughn’s usual in-your-face, I’m-too-good-for-you style of humor.

Santa, played by Paul Giamatti, and Fred have always been slightly estranged, ever since Santa said his first words, “ho ho ho.” Money, or rather Fred’s need for cash, brings the two back together. Gradually, Fred learns the heartwarming lesson that money isn’t everything.
The movie delivers two valuable lessons. A characteristic villain, Clyde Northcut, played by Kevin Spacey, threatens to shut down operations at the North Pole, but the Claus family bands together to save the holiday. The boy gets the girl (twice), the Clauses work out their issues and boys and girls around the world wake up to hula hoops and baseball bats under their Christmas trees.

“Fred Claus” delivers the comedy it promised, and all audience members will find something to laugh about. The humor is not in set-up punchlines, but lies in off-hand comments from Fred, Santa and the elf Willie, Fred’s best friend at the North Pole.
The funniest part of the movie is Fred’s fight with elf DJ Donnie, who plays the best music while the elves are hard at work. Played by rapper Ludacris, the character intends to incorporate the rapper’s badass image into the four-foot body of a green-and-red-clad elf. He doesn’t quite pull off the costume, but this makes for the most entertaining segments in “Fred Claus.”

The movie was worth the money because it gives a real-world twist to the classic tale of Santa Claus.

Who wants to see a movie that doesn’t end happily ever after, especially during Christmastime? “Fred Claus” is a great holiday movie that entertains audiences’ imaginations and minds by departing from the traditional Christmas story.