Story

The moment his baby brother Nick was born, Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn) vowed to be the best big brother the world had ever known. However, as the boys grew up and Fred was consistently outshone by Nick (Paul Giamatti), his aspiration diminished. No matter how hard he tried to gain his parents’ (Kathy Bates and Trevor Peacock) praise or affection, it was never enough. While Nick grew up to become Santa Claus, Fred became what he believed his parents thought him to be - bad and unworthy of love.

Wanda (Rachel Weisz), the woman Fred would do anything for, is about to end their relationship. Fred desperately needs $50 000 and winds up in trouble with the law. In a desperate, last-ditch effort to get his life back on track, Fred agrees to go up to the North Pole and visit his brother for the first time since Nick became Santa Claus.

While Fred’s intentions are driven by the need to get some money and get out as fast as he possibly can, Nick desperately wants to reconnect with his long-lost brother. At the same time, Nick is trying to keep his ‘Santa gig’ afloat under pressure from an efficiency expert (Kevin Spacey) who wants to shut him and the whole Christmas season down forever. While it initially appears that Fred is ruining Santa’s chances, Nick learns some of the most valuable lessons of his life. Fred gets a chance to show that he too can shine.

Themes

Sibling rivalry; family breakdown

Violence

  • A girl kicks Fred.
  • Fred punches the head off a Santa statue.
  • A group of Santas chase Fred through the streets. Some fall on top of each other or crash into the car that nearly hits Fred. The chase takes them through a mall where they shove people out of the way and fall all over each other. They end up in a toy shop, bashing each other with bats, Frisbees and signs before the group of Santas pile on top of Fred hitting and punching him.
  • While watching a live sumo wrestling match, a man lunges at Wanda with a meat cleaver.
  • Santa’s three ninja body guards attack Fred on his arrival in the North Pole.
  • The Ninjas tape Fred up, wrap him and forcibly imprison him. Fred puts up a fight and one Ninja crashes through a window.
  • A DJ attacks Fred and shoves him into a locker.
  • A boy attacks his sister’s room with a bat, smashing her doll house and destroying her things while she screams.
  • A boy living in a group home attacks the other children, hitting, punching, kicking and ripping clothes.
  • Nick and Fred engage in a violent snowball fight that culminates with a physical struggle on the back of a snow mobile. They crash their way through town and are eventually thrown off. In the end, both men walk away but Nick is injured and unable to move or fly on Christmas Eve.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

Children under five could be scared or disturbed by the violent scenes listed above, as well as the scene where Fred and Nick fight, particularly when Santa is injured and is unable to perform his Christmas duties.

From 5-8

Children could be disturbed by the scene in which a boy runs to Fred begging him to tell a social worker that he is his father. We learn that the boy’s father has died and social services have intervened to remove him from an unfit home. (References to his home life are made in earlier scenes.)

Over 8

Children over eight are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including a scene in which Mrs Claus mentions that Nick’s weight and inability to get a decent night’s sleep are affecting different ‘aspects’ of their marriage. Fred snidely comments, ‘Santa is having a tough time getting his “sleigh” off the ground’.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

There is some use of alcohol in this movie, including the following: 

  • Two elves are seen supporting a third elf as they leave a tavern.
  • Fred enters the tavern and has ‘a double’.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie. For example:

  • The elder Mrs Claus’ thighs are partially shown as she gives birth to Nick.
  • Santa’s Little Helper wears a tight, skimpy, Santa-like outfit which exposes a lot of leg and a lot of cleavage.
  • The sumo wrestlers are traditionally attired in loin cloths.

Product placement

Well-known brands of toys are shown in Santa’s workshop.

Coarse language 

This movie contains some mild coarse language and put-downs.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Fred Claus is a comedy featuring some good performances and funny special effects. Although the plot is predictable, families wanting to see a Christmas film together are likely to enjoy the story.

The main message from this movie is that the world is what you make of it and that it all begins with what you make of yourself. It also portrays the following values: belief in yourself, persistence, seeing the positive in other people and looking past their negative actions. You might like to talk with your family about these values as well as the importance of family and the roles and responsibilities that members have in relation to each other.