The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner Bros. - 2007
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 115 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English/French/Spanish/Japanese/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Miranda Richardson, Rachel Weisz, Kathy Bates, Elizabeth Banks, Kevin Spacey
Directed by: David Dobkin
Music by: Christophe Beck
Written by: Dan Fogelman
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: November 25, 2008
"Santa's brother is coming to town"
Film Synopsis:This is a story you've never heard before, a hilarious and heartwarming comedy about Fred Claus, Santa's brother - and complete opposite. After growing up in saintly Nick's shadow, Fred becomes a grouch who's lost his belief in Christmas. Then, one magical December, Fred flies north (first class via reindeer) to find brother Nick is in trouble: a scheming efficiency expert is out to shut down Christmas forever! Expect fun by the sleighful as Fred helps save Christmas and rediscovers the gift of family. Join Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Miranda Richardson, Rachel Weisz, Kathy Bates, Kevin Spacey and more in a yuletide treat to enjoy for years to come.
Looking at the cast list for this movie would definitely lead one to feel confident in its ability to be entertaining. Unfortunately that wasn't enough to keep interest high in this rather insipid comedy. This is clearly a Vince Vaughn vehicle and while I don't mind his films I find him to be pretty one dimensional as an actor. He plays the same character in all of his films and his delivery rarely changes. The script jumps back and forth between attempts at uproarious comedy and tender drama. While there have been many films that have done this well it just feels a bit contrived here. I will admit that there were some moments that provided a few giggles. Such as when Fred attends a Sibling rivalry group therapy session. In attendance were Stephen Baldwin, Frank Stallone and Roger Clinton who all portrayed themselves. Frank Stallone's bit about his brother Sly was a hoot as was Roger Clinton talking about his days as first brother. I am a sucker for tender moments involving kids and liked the scene in the third act between Fred and Slam. In the end there just wasn't enough substance to breath life into these characters or the story and I found myself checking on several occasions to see how much time remained in the movie. That is never a good thing.
The rating is for mild language and rude humor.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Fred Claus comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 23 mbps and lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 channel audio that has a constant bitrate of 640 kbps.
This was a pleasing video presentation that featured deep primary color saturation, good high definition resolution, well delineated blacks and discerning depth of field in low lit sequences. Sharpness was primarily stable over the course of the film which brought out fine detail in long range camera shots. This gave images strong visual perspective and dimensional depth. Resolution fell off occasionally and the video softened some. Grain was noticeable and appeared inconsistent in that its texture was heavier at times and finer others. This may be attributable to the photography and the special effects used to overlay the faces of some of the cast on to the bodies of those portraying elves. It made the video look uneven during scenes where these characters interacted with 'normal' characters. Flesh tones are naturally rendered with lifelike tonality and rosy complexions. The lossy Dolby Digital audio adequately delivered the elements present in this soundtrack. Dialogue was crisp, well articulated and tonally descriptive through the center channel. Surround envelopment was fairly immersive at times and offered a pleasing mix of spatial dimension and discrete sound placement. Dynamics and bass response readily conveyed the films high and low level detail so that sounds had good of clarity and appropriate impact. This is essentially a dialogue driven movie but there are moments where use of the entire surround platform is apropos. I can't say that it would have definitely benefited from a lossless audio encoding however I would much prefer to have that option rather than a lossy soundtrack. I hope to see Warner begin to exclusively include lossless audio on all of their Blu-ray Disc releases. This is something that is being done by practically every other studio even though it is currently not required by the BDA/BD specification.
- Audio commentary with Director David Dobkin
- (HD) Pause for Claus: Elves tell all - Featurette
- (HD) Sibling rivalry - Interviews with Vince Vaughn, Roger Clinton, Stephen Baldwin, and Frank Stallone
- (HD) Meet the other Claus - Featurette
- Vince and Paul's fireside chats:
- Vince and Pauls favorite HoHoHos
- Vinces favorite Christmas memory
- Vince: straight man or wacky sidekick?
- Paul: whats your favorite Christmas Carol?
- Vince and Paul: what would you want from Santa?
- 13 deleted scenes
- Digital Copy Bonus Disc - Contains a standard definition version of the film that can be downloaded from a compatible PC to aportable playback device
- (HD) Ludacrismas music video
Blu-ray Disc Exclusive:
- Bonus Disc - Race to save Christmas DVD game
Final Thoughts:It is rare today to see films that have such an ensemble of quality actors. As much as we would hope that their presence alone can make the film worthwhile Fred Claus is proof that is not the case. This wasn't a bad movie but it wasn't a very good one either. Its message about the spirit of Christmas is a convoluted one which isn't necessarily inspirational. Its debut on Blu-ray Disc from Warner boasts good audio/video quality as well as a decent bonus features package that includes Blu-ray exclusive content. With the plethora of great holiday films available it would be difficult to recommend this one but if you are feeling curious you could give it a rent.
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