Hello, Spongey here.
Well guys, it is December 1st. Which means CHRISTMAS time is upon us for 2013! That means many things, but first, let’s discus Red Ribbon Reviewers again.
If you recall, last years Batman Returns review was for Red Ribbon reviews. Want info that is so copy/pasted from that review? Here you go:
Simply put,. It is a group of internet reviewers who help spread AIDS/HIV awareness. It’s made of the usual B list (and even some A list) video reviewers of all kinds, who mention RRR at the start of their review, as a way to help …well spread AIDS/HIV aware-ness. They also wear a red ribbon, much the one pictured above.
Many reviewers have done a red ribbon review at some point, even the nostalgia critic! They do this around christmas time mostly. This year it’s being headed by Eli Stone aka The Cartoon hero. They also accept Blog posts, which is where I come in
I decided to join this here since it’s pretty cool and they could always use new reviewers, and more blogs. Now, i’m not getting all mushy on you with this aids thing, but I’m not a terrible person (despite what everyone else in the universe says) and I feel this is an important issue, and the guys doing this have my respect due to their involvement.
So if you wish, please visit the red ribbon reviewers website for more info on it, as well as proper info on HIVAIDS. You could also donate to many worthy AIDS/HIV related causes. Just head here
So there you go. I don’t think RRR has OFFICALY started right now even though it’s December first, but I figured I’ve jump on the wagon early so all my Christmas reviews could be up on there.
I had a couple Christmas reviews last year, but as many as I wanted. So every review in December will be a Christmas one….except for the annual Friday the 13th review. We’ll get to that one.
So how shall I start the season? With a movie no one remembers! Yeah, we have a Christmas movie from 2007 that came out, got bad reviews, and vanished from the radar. I saw it playing on TV and thought it might make for an okay review.
Besides, it’s nice to open with a Christmas Movie no one would expect me to review. I don’t have much to introduce here. I’ve never seen it and I have no idea if i’ll like it or not. Though maybe not cuz of the star, but we’ll get to him later.
The film was written by Jessie Nelson and Dan Fogelman. The former has done nothing, but the latter wrote Tangled, Bolt, and Crazy Stupid Love. All great films, but on the other hand, the director has done…The Change up.
Okay, I didn’t plan to review this and that so close together. It just kind of happened.
So is this Christmas film new and hilarious, or is it just a lump of coal? Let’s find out!
This, is Fred Claus
After some nice Christmas-y logos, the movie opens with some narration. He tells us that a lot of stories open a long time ago….and this one does as well.
“But let me assure you, this is a story you’ve never heard before”
And given the reviews, it’s for good reason. We truly start in medieval Europe, as Kathty Bates gives birth to a fat baby. And right away, the baby speaks.
Wow, this is one rude baby.
Nah, he’s say “Ho ho ho”. See, his name is Nicholas Claus. Yep, we just saw the birth of Santa, and he was born fat for some reason. I’d throw in a Kathy Bates joke, but I’m above that.
But we also have his older brother Fred who actually likes his new baby brother.
“I promise to be the best big brother in the whole world”
Corny, but effective.
We cut to when they are a tad older, as Nick gives away his Christmas presents to some Orphans. Of course Fred does not approve and as they grow up, Fred tries to make his parents proud, but his brother keeps outshining him.
Yep, that cliché. We’re off to a good start already. Fred snarks away and gets the “be more like your brother” crap. We later see Fred in a tree, talking to himself about how he did make a promise to be a good big brother.
But then tree falls…cuz Nick cut it down. Yes, Nick somehow cut down the tree while Fred was in, without knowing that. What.
Nick says he saw that Fred liked the tree, so they will bring it into the house. But see, there was a bird in that tree Fred talked to, and when Nick cut it down, the Bird left forerver.
Christ, what else is gonna happen to Fred? Is he gonna gets AIDS from his dying mom? That’s the only this could be more forced.
So Fred starts to hate his family, and even became naughty. You know stuff like this wouldn’t happen if parents weren’t such dumb asses. Christ, they are glad one of their sons became the new symbol of Christmas.
The narrator tells us Nick became a Saint, and when you become a Saint, you freeze in time and it applies to the family of said Saint. Well, that’s a dumb rule but okay. Now, do they tell us how Nick becamea Saint, and thus Santa?
Of course not, that would make sense. So we go to the present day, where things aren’t good for Fred. While Nick grew up to be Santa, Fred grew up to be Vince Vaughn. Okay, to be fair I’ve never seen one of his before now, but he seems like a decent actor.
It’s just easy to mock him. So Fred is now a repo man and we see has taken a little girls TV and she is not happy. Then he goes on a tirade about how he did her a favor and all that jazz. So yeah, Fred is kind of dick but Vince plays the same character in every movie, so ….take that of what you will.
So Fred leaves and of course he’s grown up to be a Christmas hating Grinch. He meets up with his girlfriend Wanda, played by Rachel Weisz, who is pissed Fred hasn’t talked to her much recently…and that her birthday is tomorrow.
Why is that Christmas movies are so cliché? Santa Buddies is another example where they had normal Xmas cliches AND other normal cliches. Now Fred Claus throws it’s cliché hat in the ring. Weak.
Of course she says “I can’t stay mad at you” after he makes some jokes. Fred isn’t too much of a dick but he is starting to go there. Can’t expect anything less from Vince Vaughn. So he goes home and we see Charlie Brown on the TV.
Yet another movie shows us something I’d rather watch. But Fred is interrupted by Stanley from That’s so raven. No, really that’s the same actor. This is “Slam” a young orphan. Stanley wants a puppy for Christmas, but he fears Santa won’t know where to give it to him since he moves random a lot.
Of course a bitter Fred tells him Santa is a fame junkie. Then after that we just cut to some dude telling Fred he has some money troubles and Fred needs money by the 2nd. For Santa Christ’s sake, how many cliches are there gonna be?!
So Fred tries to make money by being one of the Salvation Army Santa dudes. Yes, he pretends to be someone who uses the money for charity, to rip people off and take the money for himself.
…Wow, what a DICK.
This doesn’t please a real Salvation Army santa, as Fred doesn’t have a permit to work on that street. Then some other Santa dudes show up to tell him off. And Fred runs off leading a chase scene.
Said chase is set to…Surfin’ Bird.
BIRD BIRD BIRD IS THE WO-
NO YOU DON’T.
Sorry about that folks. This is a standard Christmas chase scene which leads into a mall, but it’s somewhat amusing. After that, Fred lands in Jail and…misses Wanda’s birthday dinner. Wah wah.
We then finally cut to present day Santa, played by Paul Gimatti. He’s dealing with some stuff, when he gets a call from Fred. Fred asks Santa for the money he needs. Yep, there’s the other part of the cliché where our hero has to get the money from someone he kind of doesn’t want anything to do with.
Mrs Claus doesn’t want Santa to give him the money cuz of “Tough love” but come on, lady. Normally i’d say “fuck Fred” but as far as Santa knows, Fred is a normal guy in a tough spot. So you, Mrs Claus is a dick.
But Santa tells Fred it’ will be done. Then Fred fucks it up by making some weird bullshit offer to give more if Santa gives him 50 k more than he needs. Okay, nevermind, screw Fred.
‘I’ll give you the 5 grand, but if you want the rest, you’re gonna have to come down here”
So there you go. Fred has to work for Santa to earn that money, …mostly cuz Fred has never visited before. Of course the entire set up that leads to Fred going there is insanely contrived, and could be fixed if Santa didn’t feel the need to practice “tough love” but….whatever.
Fred then visits Wanda who is….pretty pissed. He tries to make up for it with an excuse but once he says he has to go for ‘business” reasons …she gets mad and breaks up with him.
Okay, I’m going on a rant here, but if you as me, any comedy can be flat out ruined with the girlfriend subplot. You know, when a normal story that already has it’s cliches feels the need to fit in this bullshit.
If they can fit in the story proper, it works. But usually it does not, and this movie is a perfect example. It’s a bunch of contrived bullshit that again, would not exist if the characters talked things out, and were more likable.
But as it stands, this is the most groan inducing part of the whole movie so far. Fred then just kind of heads home, and he is visited by Slam/Stanley again….who needs Fred to pretend to be his father cuz child services showed up to take him.
Santa Christ, do you think you have enough freaking plot points?!
Then Fred gives Slam a speech while the dreaded full house music plays. Slam is taken away and Fred gets back to packing. Okay, what was the point of that? Even Vince looks like has no idea what just happened!
So then Fred is visited by an elf, played by….the villain from Super Buddies. Okay, this is getting freaky. This is Willy, the head elf. Willy….elf…head….okay, I’m reading too much into this.
He’s here to take Fred and his stuff to the north pole. So he takes Fred up to the roof and they blast off in Santa’s sleigh. A few minutes later, they arrive at the North Pole, which is actually a pretty decent looking set, that feels like the North Pole.
Granted, I’ve seen better versions but it works for this movie.
After getting beat up by Ninjas….okay, Fred meets up with Santa and Mrs Claus and Willy takes Fred to his room. Fred will be bunking for Willy and soon after they go to sleep.
The next morning, Willy takes Fred to Santa’s workshop, which also looks very nice. And also Fred is introduced the workshop’s…DJ, played by Ludacris. Rappers in movies rarely work out well, and this looks to be no exception.
“You scrooge you lose”
Santa shows Fred the naughty/nice list as well as a magic snowglobe. If you say a kids name, it will re-anlazyes that kid and see if they are still naughty or nice. Well, I can tell this may be a plot point, or else they wouldn’t bring it up at all.
So now Fred has to work. First, Fred has to work in Santa’s office and stamp some kid’s mortality status. Then the workshop is visited by Clyde, an efficiency expert, who has come to check the North pole. He’s the villain, and he’s played by Kevin Spacey.
Which means he will be amazing.
Clyde works things out with Santa and Mrs Claus, and he says that due to their inefficiency recently, “the board” wants to shut the workshop down. Yeah, I’m not sure what “the board” is and who gives them the authority to shut down Santa’s workshop, but okay.
Clyde does so they are picking on the Tooth fairy and Easter bunny too…which makes me want to make a Rise of the Guardians joke, but nah. Also, here’s my question: Do people know Santa is real? Cuz is mostly normal fo them but stuff like the ‘board” can of confuses me.
Back with Fred, he uses the snowglobe thingy to check in on Wanda. We see her talking to some dude friend of hers, ….who asks her out cuz she says she doesn’t a boyfriend. She accepts his offer.
For Santa Christ’s sake, stop with the damn annoying cliches like this! I’ve seen this too many times and it flat out does not work here! What makes it worse is that the plot points are so rushed so we can move on the true plot, making these bits even WORSE!
Which happens here, as we move to Fred talking to the DJ and asking to play another song as he keeps playing the same one over and over. DJ Donnie doesn’t want to do that for some reason, so he tries to fight Fred, but he just locks Donnie in a closet and changes the song to something more hip.
I’m not sure if this will go anywhere but right now it’s dumb and a pointless way to remind us Fred is a dick. The elves doesn’t like it at first, but it grows on them and now it’s POINTLESS DANCE NUMBER TIME!
But while that happens, Kevn Spacey tells Santa that if he can make it through christmas without 3 strikes, then Kevin will give the board a positive report, and the workshop can move on.
“Also, absolutely no one can know why I’m here”
Which is why you are saying all this outside where everyone can hear you!
So of course they end up walking on the dance party, which stops afte rthey are caught. So let me guess, Fred being Fred will make it so they get 3 strikes, Santa will be close to being shut down, but Fred will have a change of heart and need to fix it, right?
Santa Christ, this is tripe.
After that odd-ness, Cylde walks away to check other things, and Santa tells Fred not to fuck up. I will tell you that we are at the 42 minute mark as he says this. When he fucks up, I will tell you the time there, to see how long it took.
Anyway, we cut to that night as Santa wants Fred to drop by their parents place for dinner, but Fred doesn’t want to.
“I am not going to dinner!”
It cuts to them heading to dinner. Obvious Gilligan cut ftw!
But when they get there, they see that Cylde is there too cuz the parents invited him. Wah wah. So yeah, they sit down to eat, and they talk and it’s awkward and meh. At one point the parents discuss how awesome Santa can be, and Fred gets mad and “subtly” talks bad about him.
This movie isn’t as crappy as I’m making it seem, but stuff like that is so damn typical that it’s kind of really lazy.
“I just wish you were a little more like your brother, that’s all”
Okay, Santa’s parents are morons. Fred doesn’t talk to them about (as the cliché goes) but any moron can see that Fred doesn’t like being compared and all that crap. Screw these guys!
So eventually Fred gets made and leaves.
CLYDE: …I love meeting people’s families.
Okay, that was funny.
So anyway, I learn the North pole has a freaking bar as Fred goes to one and bumps into Willy and Charlene there. After Charlene leaves, Willy talks to Fred about lack of confidence regrading Charlene. I REALLY hope this pointless subplot adds to the main character’s development, cuz I will be so mad otherwise.
Their conversation goes on, and Willy mentions he can’t dance, so Fred shall teach him. Santa Christ, really? We’re doing this? …Fine.
Let’s just skip to the part where Willy falls down…just as Charlene comes in cuz she forgot something. How come no one like that ever goes “Hey, I’m coming, anyone there?” before barging in like that?
The full house music plays as Willy storms off. This movie is starting to love that music. Well anyone, that night in bed…no comment, they walk about it. But one forced speech later, Willy is okay now.
Weak, but at least we cut to Kevin Spacey…as we see him purposely shredding kid;’s letters, so he can blame it on Fred and give Santa a 2nd Strike. Great, more forced villain stuff….but at least Spacey is having fun and that makes this bit amusing.
The next day, Santa chews Fred out cuz some letters are gone, and he blames Fred. Then we get this lovely line from an elf:
“NO ONE IN WISONSON IS GETTING ANY GIFTS THIS YEAR!”
Clyde shows up to be evil after Fred walks away, Cylde gives a speech about how Santa shouldn’t trust Fred and yada yada, you get it. So they decide to hold an intervention for Fred.
Let’s skip some dumb bit, so we can get to said intervention a couple minutes later.
“You’re behavior has been unacceptable”
And oh hey, they got Wanda to be there on short notice. They pretty much say she only just found Santa is real and Fred’s brother today…and I must say, she’s taking the SANTA IS REAL AND FRED’S BROTHER thing really well.
They called over Jewish psychiatrist dude #454 to help. Oh, and this is FAMILY interview so they bring up Santa’s issues…including-
“Santa’s having a hard time getting the sleigh off the ground eh?”
Then they abruptly bring us back to Fred, as they bring up how he makes problems and tons of excuses. Fred and Wanda end up arguing, mostly cuz of the “seeing her with another man” thing and she ends up storming off.
That wasn’t as painful as I feared, but it was still pretty typical. Why is it few movies can pull stuff like that off without making the man look like an overprotective douche, and the woman an overly correct bitch?
So blah blah, Fred heads outside and Clyde pops up to pull his evil tricks on Fred’s mind. At first Fred doesn’t buy into it, but Cylde goes on about how crappy Fred’s life is and how everyone loves Santa so much and always craps on the little guy.
As cliché as this kind of evil trickery is, Kevin Spacey pulls it off so well that it becomes a pretty enjoyable scene. Yep, he’s saving this whole movie.
…So anyway, the next day Fred is hanging out in the workshop and they announce the new naughty list topper…Slam/Stanley. Dun dun dun!
Why is this? Well, we see him in an orphanage, being a douche to some kids by telling them Santa sucks using Fred’ speech from earlier. This is a very force scene right here, if I I’ve ever seen one. Which…i have. Cuz I know that it’s forced, and I….shut up.
One of the kids tells Slam he’s never gonna get adopted. Okay, why isn’t that douche the naughty list topper? I bet so many kids who were flat out born naughty, and are always bad who deserve the top spot more than this kid whose naughty-ness is circumstantial.
Feeling bad, Fred goes to his station and stamps Slam as nice. Okay, that act is kind of sweet, since it’s not overblown as hell. …At least until Fred starts stamping ALL the kids as nice because uh…..Santa Christ wills it?
A bit later, Santa finds out about this and chews Fred out.
“None of the kids seem naughty to me nick”
You can’t hear it but…he sounds like Peter Griffin when he says that. No comment.
Anyway, Santa tells him they can’t make enough presents for the new nice kids. Now he’s extra pissed at how Fred has ruined Christmas.
Fred insults him, so Santa leads them into a snowball fight. Long story short, they both lose and literally fall on their asses. They have a sad moment, which is very mooplash-y since it follows a slapstick heavy scene.
Santa then reveals to Fred who Clyde really is. You know, if you just told Fred all that earlier, he would have an incentive to not fuck up and this wouldn’t be happening now. Santa is a dumbass.
So Fred takes his money and hops in the sleigh to go home. Mrs Claus gives Fred a present from Nick that he had wanted to give Fred. Let me guess, it’s gonna be a gift that convinces Fred to patch things up?
I didn’t read ahead in the wikipedia article. I literally guessed right there.
Anyway, Santa talks to Clyde who says Fred stamping the nice kids was Strike 3.
“It gives me no great pleasure to say this-oh who am I kidding, this is a fantastic moment for me!”
God bless you, Kevin Spacey.
So yeah, Santa is being shut down. I’ve already mentioned how I saw this coming, so let’s move on. Fred heads home and opens that present. First off, there’s a note saying “I’m sorry I cut down your tree”
The proper gift is a birdhouse to replace that old one. …Okay, as cheesy as this is, it’s….a tad sweet. I admit it. So instead of racing to the Norh pole…he attends a Siblings Anonymous meeting.
At this meeting is…Frank Stallone, Roger Clinton Jr, and Stephen Baldwin .Yes, that is really them playing themselves …Okay, this is cameo is actually the funniest part of the movie so far.
It’s pointless and runs on too long, but it’s still amusing. Fred goes up and of course, no one believes him. Eventually, Roger winds up giving a speech his brother and how he will always be there for him, cuz he loves him.
Okay, now I get the point but we didn’t need the random cameos. Hell, just have Fred see that gift, then go straight there. That’s how the cliché goes, why pad the run time?
So thanks to that speech, Fred heads to Santa’s workshop and gathers all the elves. He wants them all to get working on those extra parents so they can save Christmas and all that. After an inspiring speech, they agree to it.
After that, Fred tells Santa about it….but Santa is injured thanks to that fight, so that means the next Claus in line, Fred must deliver the presents. Yep, saw that coming.
They go through the “you don’t have to do this” stuff and they crank the full house up full blast here. But long story short, Fred heads out to do his duty. So we get a montage of Fred going around the world slapticking his way into people’s houses.
Anyway, eventually Fred drops by Slam’s place to talk to him. He gives Slam that puppy he wanted and gives a speech apologized for what he told him about Santa and yada yada. It’s cheesy and doesn’t sell me on this pointless plot point. Shocked?
So he leaves after that, and it seems like they will make it…until Cylde shuts off all the power to sabotage this. Santa Christ, what is this guy’s deal? But at least Spacey is still good.
Santa shows up and talks to Clyde. He tells Clyde has made the naughty list when he was a kid, and he asked for…a superman cape.
If that was an actor allusion…it’s pretty amusing.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.
Oh joy, this cliché. It works better than in Santa Buddies, I’ll give it that.,…but it’s another entry in this films long list of tired cliches. So yeah, they crank up the music and Santa apologies and finally gives Clyde his Superman cape.
Meh, this part isn’t quite as bad as it is in most movies that do it, (thanks to Kevin Spacey) but I still it’s a bit too overdone for my tastes.
So Santa asks Clyde to turn the power back on, so Fred can save Christmas and get the North pole back up. Clyde agrees, and now the suspense is on for things to get back on track.
Long story short, not only do they make it after some trouble, but they arrive home and Willy kisses Charlene. Aren’t you glad that OH SO AMAZING AND IMPORTANT subplot was resolved?
“We did it’
There’s a bit more suspense than I make it seem, cuz I skipped over a couple small parts here and there. I was sucked in for at least a couple minutes, so there is that. So yeah, the day is saved thanks to Fred.
They gather around the snowglove as we see kids being happy, set to a pretentious version of silent night. It’s another really forced moment but whatever, the movie is almost over.
“You are the best big brother anyone can ever ask for”
Oh yeah, there’s this main plot point that needed resolving. So after the bit, Fred visits Wanda still dressed as Santa. Wanda doesn’t get it and is a bit worried./
I’d make a crack involving a sex joke, but in the spirit of Christmas, I’ll avoid it. Anyway, Fred gives her a present, which is a french looking Teddy bear. I…don’t get it.
Fred then takes her out for a ride in the sleigh. So yeah, it’s a nice moment and Fred has stopped being a dick.
NARRATOR: I bet you are wondering what happened to everyone else.
I’m wonder what happened to you! I hate it when narrators only pop at the start and never show up again til the end.
He tells us Santa hired Clyde as a consultant, Willy and Charlene hooked up, Slam got adopted by an nice family, Santa finally got his brother back, and of course Fred makes up with his parents.
So all in all, Fred patches things up Santa and they both realized they should stop being dicks, the parents realized Fred is cool too, forced romances patched up, the day was saved and everyone had a merry Christmas.
And of course we see the big wrap up moment with the family together, as we pan out and a song takes us right to the end credits.
Another kind of abrupt ending. Oh, it has that needed feeling of warmth for those who liked the movie and feel rewarded and all that. But it seems like the main conflict just kind of…ended there. We have no real moral, and from what I see, the parents didn’t truly learn to give both kids equal attention even though that was the main issue!
But whatever, everything wrapped up and the movie is over after 102 minutes. Yeah, some of that could have been shaved down.
This movie was…mediocre. It isn’t particularly awful or painful, but it also isn’t very good either. The biggest problem is the plot itself. When you get right down it, tons of old cliches, Christmas or otherwise are tried out here.
Some like “saving Christmas when all seems lost” are fine since I seem them in great works too. But a good chunk of them are just tired. The ones right on the forefront like with “neglected brother who wants attention’ and all that are….still annoying, but at least those kind I can deal with.
But I can’t deal with all the point filler cliches. The oprhan boy, the two forced romances, some bits with the villain…all so tiresome. I could sit with the villain but the other two? Not so much. Some of the more painful moments in the movie with with those elements as they feel too “phony” for a movie that tries so hard to be sweet.
The cliches that actually add to the story are perfectly acceptable, even if they aren’t done too well. But I can’t stand the ones thrown in for no reason, as they are done poorly and don’t serve the plot well.
On the other hand, the performances do help save some parts. Paul Giamtatti is the perfect choice to play Santa and while he hasn’t as awesome as he can be in other roles, he still does a decent job. Kevin Spacey turns a weak villain into a fun one with his performance. To he point where the movie is almost worth watching for him alone.
Most of the others are…serviceable. They just don’t stand out that much, and their character are mostly boring or pointless anyway. Not bad, just not worth mentioning. Though they are mostly okay enough to make some parts work better.
Vince Vaughn is…okay, I guess. He sadly does help make his character more unlikable when he is, but he does sell the likable moments to. There’s just something about him that rubs me the wrong way, even though he isn’t bad. He’s…passable, just not the best leading man.’
Not to mention that Fred comes across as too much of a dick early on. Not so much so that his good guy act is BAD but it is a point I feel could have been fixed.
Back to my main point, the movie is somehow. It has all the trademarks of a bad cliché movie but it isn’t done AS badly as some other movies. While watching I was at least to tolerate more bits than I let on, due to how I can let the more up front cliches go ,due to them working better than the worse ones.
Watching it just got a big “meh’ out of me. While select parts did kind of bug me as you can tell. It’s pretty typical, which parts to lend me to calling it “bad” but…eh, it’s more “kind of bad” than flat out bad.
It’s clearly trying hard at points, and while most of it feels forces, some of it does rub off on m,e. I suppose on a critical level, it is flat out bad, but for me…it’s only kind of bad.
Yeah, cheap, I know. And 5/10 does technically means d- in some circles but I feel better with this than a flat out Grade of d-.
So now the christmas season has begun. Hopefully, next time will give us something wth more concert good parts. Give me anything, I don’t mind.
Oh boy, this is gonna be fun.