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Fred Claus has lived his entire life in his brother's very large shadow. Fred tried, but could hardly live up to the example set by the younger Nicholas, who was just a perfect, well, saint. True to form, Nicholas grew up to be the model of giving, while Fred became the polar opposite: a fast-talking repo man who's run out of luck and money. Over Mrs. Claus' objections, Nicholas agrees to help his brother on one condition: that he come to the North Pole and earn the money he needs by working in Santa's Toy Shop. The trouble is that Fred isn't exactly elf material and, with Christmas fast approaching, Fred could jeopardize the jolliest holiday of the year.
For more about Fred Claus and the Fred Claus Blu-ray release, see Fred Claus Blu-ray Review published by Sir Terrence on November 23, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, John Michael Higgins, Miranda Richardson, Rachel Weisz, Liam James
Director: David Dobkin
» See full cast & crew
Fred Claus Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Sir Terrence, November 23, 2008
Every year it seems we are bombarded with Christmas movies that either make us cry ourselves into dehydration, or that are so stupid and silly that you may or may not laugh. Some movies have a very good premise, but because of a poor choice of actors or a bad script, the movie falls on its face. Some movies are just plain silly, but the great choice of actors and a clever script makes the movie quite entertaining, and worth the watch. Fred Claus suffers from the a lot of the former, and a little of the latter. Vince Vaughn in my opinion was a poor choice for this movie. Maybe I think this because I do not really care for Vaughn's humor, as I do not think his standup, nor his comedic roles in movies really works for me. Other may disagree, but how we respond or do not respond to certain actors in movies is an intensely personal thing. This movie had some very good elements in it; so many that I cannot completely throw this movie away as trash. Another issue that just bugged the heck out of me, and threw my suspension of belief out the door, is how incredibly dumb Fred was. For me it made him unlikeable, even during his period of redemption. I don't really mind if your stupidity hurts you personally, but when it hurts others, you just want to beat the person down (not that I advocate violence). What saved this movie for me were the performances of Paul Giamatti as Santa Claus, Miranda Richardson as Mrs. Claus, and Kathy Bates as Mother Claus, and Kevin Spacey as the efficiency expert, and one of my favorite actresses Rachel Weisz as Fred girlfriend. Even Chris Bridges (Ludacris) cracked me up with his brief but funny on screen performance as DJ Donnie the little elf. In essence, I liked just about everyone else EXCEPT Vince Vaughn. I also enjoyed the cameo appearances by Roger Clinton, Frank Stallone, and Stephen Baldwin. Their entire segment was just hilarious to me, and it dove tailed nicely into the conflict between Fred and his brother Santa.
Fred Claus has been living in the shadow of his brother since his brother was conceived. No matter what he did to try and please his parents, his brother always received the praise and admiration of his mother and father. This left Fred very bitter and angry, and eventually he moved away, and became estranged from his entire family. As an adult, Fred is a fast talking loser who cannot seem to do anything right. He neglects and ignores his girlfriend, a Chicago cop, and he ruins Christmas for a family by repossessing some items from their house. In other words he is a Grinch, and a mean Grinch at that.
Fred dreams of opening an off track betting facility in Chicago. However he needs $50,000 to pull it off, money he has no hope of getting on his own. One night he is arrested, and has to turn to his brother he has been estranged from for years to help him get out of jail. He also asks him for the $50,000 he needs to get his business started. His brother agrees to bail him out, but insists he come to the North Pole to get the investment money. Once arriving at the North Pole everything begins to go completely awry. Fred's antics and irresponsibility nearly ruins Santa Claus toy making operation. Making things worse is the evil efficiency expert desire to shut Santa Claus's entire operation down because it cannot keep up with the Christmas demand of toy deliveries. When Fred realizes what a jerk he has been to everyone, he goes on a mission to save his brothers factory, and thereby saving Christmas itself.
Fred Claus Blu-ray, Video Quality
Fred Claus sleds onto the Bluray format with a strong 1080p/VC-1 encode framed at a wide 2:40:1 that is very dimensional, natural looking, and overall pleasing to watch. Colors really pop on this disc, not just the reds (this is a Santa movie), but almost all of the primary colors. Images were generally very sharp and clean, but on occasional got soft on some scenes. Background detail was very good, as was fine detail in the foreground which gave long shots a nice sense of depth and perspective. Grain was noticeable, fine textured, but also inconsistent, as some shots had more visible grain than others. Flesh tones looked natural within their environment, very natural in Chicago shots, and rosy red at the North Pole which is just what you would see in cold weather. The picture sometimes looked unnatural during effect shots that required overlays of one object over another, such as DJ Donnie's character. Overall I found the picture quality quite pleasing (issues aside), and at times very fine HD material.
Fred Claus Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Unfortunately Warner only thought to include a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack encoded at a constant bit rate of 640kbps. While other studio use the lossless codecs exclusively on their titles, Warner has yet to fully embrace and support lossless for all of its releases. However addressing the audio at hand, this mix is not all that bad. First, this movie is mostly dialog, and it was always clean and clear, locked firmly in the center channel, and never stepped on by the sound effects or music. The surrounds are used to effectively to enhance the frontal hemisphere, with some panning from rear to front, and visa versa. Dynamics were generally good, and fit each moment appropriately. The LFE is used to support the sound effects and on screen action, so its use is quite conservative. The music in the film is so subtle, that it almost blended into the background, becoming a mere afterthought in the sonic picture. This mix is so conservative, I am not sure including a lossless track would have really added anything, but one never knows until it is actually used, and you have something to compare.
Fred Claus Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Fred Claus comes to Bluray packed with extra value content. Here is what we have, and it is presented in all of its glory in HD.
Audio commentary with Director David Dobkin
Featurette: Pause for Claus: Elves tell all
Sibling rivalry - Interviews with Vince Vaughn, Roger Clinton, Stephen Baldwin, and Frank Stallone
Featurett: Meet the other Claus
Vince and Paul's fireside chats: which consists of "Vince and Paul's favorite HoHoHo's" "Vince's favorite Christmas memory", "Vince: straight man or wacky sidekick?", "Paul: what's your favorite Christmas Carol?", and "Vince and Paul: what would you want from Santa?"
Also included among the extras are 13 deleted scenes, a Digital copy of the movie, and a Ludicris music video called Ludicrismas. A bonus game disc titled "Race to Save Christmas Game" is also amoung the extra value content of this overall package.
Fred Claus Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
As much as I disliked Vince Vaughn's performance, I loved everyone else's. This made the movie not a total loss for me, but very watchable and entertaining. While this film will not go down in history as a classic, it certainly is a film that your entire family can enjoy, especially if you are a fan of Vaughn. While overall this movie is rather silly, the message of redemption rang through loud and clear. It didn't help me like Vaughn's character, but it certainly gave the film a little more depth, which the film badly needed. On a personal basis, Rachael Weisz can play just about any role she is handed. She is sexy, beautiful, and quite talented. Every role I have seen her play, she comes across quite honestly and believable. For you Vince Vaughn fans, buy this movie (click through the Bluray.com link to Amazon). While restrained within the content, he is playing Vince Vaughn that is for sure.
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Fred Claus Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Warner Brings Fred Claus to Blu-ray - August 12, 2008
Warner Home Video has announced that they will bring the Christmas comedy 'Fred Claus' to Blu-ray on November 25th, day-and-date with the DVD release. The film, which stars Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti, will utilize 2.40:1 1080p VC-1 video accompanied by a Dolby ...
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