BY IRENE KARRAS
THE GIST: Fred Claus has never been able to live up to his saintly, little brother, so he does as many siblings do and carves out a niche for himself doing the exact opposite thing from his favoured sibling. Whereas Nick gives things to people, Fred has become a repo man who takes things away, sometimes even keeping them for himself, which lands him in some trouble. Forced to work for his little brother to pay off his debts, Fred and Nick finally have the opportunity to work out some of their issues, and Fred realizes no one is perfect after all.
NAUGHTY OR NICE: Both. There are some sexually suggestive comments and a bit of toilet humour, but overall it’s pretty harmless and the final message of love and redemption is as saccharine as you’d expect for a holiday movie.
WHY IT GETS US IN THE SPIRIT: Because we all suspected that Santa is a little self-righteous and watching him buckle under the stress of family issues during the holidays is satisfying and relatable.
MAGIC MOMENT: Fred attends a Brothers Anonymous support meeting for underachieving siblings featuring Stephen Baldwin, Frank Stallone, and Roger Clinton.
SANTA SIGHTING: Throughout, from childhood until he grows up to become Oscar-winner Paul Giammatti.
ACCOMPANYING CAROL: Doris Day’s “Santa Claus is coming to Town.” Its repetition on the assembly line brings on Fred’s breakdown.
PERFECT PRESENT FOR: Anyone with siblings, really–the overachievers will relate to Santa and the underachievers will relate to Fred. Also, for that mom who claims she doesn’t have a favourite but obviously does.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfsHMuWn95I]
Irene Karras is a Calgary-based communications consultant and freelance writer with a fondness for 1950s Greek melodramas, 1980s coming of age movies, weird Canadian films, and, by necessity, PG movies. She blogs at misplacedmysassy.wordpress.com and tweets @irene_karras.