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I know I may find myself in the minority, but I actually liked FRED CLAUS ($36) and thought it was a fairly enjoyable holiday comedy. Sure, it doesn’t have holiday classic written all over it, but FRED CLAUS is a reasonably fun movie that made me laugh quite a bit. The premise of FRED CLAUS is simple enough… Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn) is the older brother of Nick AKA Santa Claus (Paul Giamatti)- and the two brothers have been estranged most of their lives. Fred became jealous of Nick at an early age due to his Mother (Kathy Bates) displaying an obvious preference for his younger sibling. Things became worse, when Nick became Saint Nicholas and assumed the mantle of Santa Claus.

Flash forward a few centuries to a dysfunctional family reunion. Fred is having money problems and calls upon Nick once again for help. However, instead of just sending the cash, Nick wants Fred to come to the North Pole to assist with the Holiday rush. Leaving his put-upon girlfriend Wanda (Rachel Weisz) behind, Fred goes to the North Pole to do whatever it takes to get his cash from Nick. If the reunion with his brother wasn’t bad enough, Fred has to contend with the presence of his mother, who continues to ask him why he can’t be more like his younger brother. Of course, no Holiday film would be complete without a villain who wants to shut down Christmas…that role falls to Kevin Spacey as efficiency expert Clyde Northcut, who wants to outsource the entire Christmas operation to the South Pole- including Santa’s job. As you might expect, having irresponsible Fred working up at the North Pole, certainly won’t help Santa’s chances of keeping his job. The cast of FRED CLAUS also features John Michael Higgins, Miranda Richardson, Ludacris and Elizabeth Banks. Look for amusing cameos from Frank Stallone, Roger Clinton and Stephen Baldwin.

Warner Home Video has made FRED CLAUS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentation is very nice indeed and certain to please. The image usually appears sharp and nicely defined, even down to the level of fine detail, plus it produces a good deal of depth and dimensionality. Some softness creeps in, in places, but is never distracting. Colors are warmly rendered, vibrant and well saturated throughout, with the flesh tones coming across in a very appealing manner. Additionally, certain hues, like reds, pop very nicely throughout the course of the film. Blacks, whites, contrast and shadow detail all get high marks. The elements from which FRED CLAUS has been mastered appear virtually flawless. Grain is a bit variable, sometimes exceedingly mild, other times somewhat more noticeable, but is never excessive.

FRED CLAUS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital 640kbps soundtrack. No surprises here, FRED CLAUS comes with a fairly standard comedy mix. Sure, the outlying channels engage here and there for occasional active effects. However, for the most part, the material doesn’t require much beyond reproducing clear dialogue and nice sounding music. Sound is generally localized to the forward soundstage, while the rear channels primarily supply the requisite complement of ambient sound and musical fill. Musical fidelity is just fine. The bass channel doesn’t have much to do, other than lending weight to an occasional effect. French, Spanish, Japanese and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Portuguese.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director David Dobkin. Featurettes include: Pause For Claus: Elves Tell All (nine minutes), Sibling Rivalry (nine minutes) and Meet The Other Claus: Behind The Scenes Of This Winter Wonderland (thirteen minutes). Vince And Paul’s Fireside Chats (Q&A), thirteen Deleted Scenes, a Music Video by Ludacris close out the main supplements. Two additional discs are contained in the package; one offers a Digital Copy of the movie, while the other contains a DVD game entitled Race To Save Christmas.

FRED CLAUS may not be to every taste, but this Holiday comedy had me laughing. The Blu-ray presentation is very solid delivering very strong visuals. If you are a Vince Vaughn or Paul Giamatti fan, you should get a kick out of FRED CLAUS.



Fred Claus [Blu-ray] (2007)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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