Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fred Claus, or On Kidult Christmas Popcorn

Who’d a thunk it? Turns out Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti and (surprise!) Kevin Spacey are really just the world’s most charming kids.

Fred Claus (the character) may be a barely redeemable, cynical schmuck of a guy, but Fred Claus (the movie) may be the least cynical holiday-based overture from Hollywood toward the young folks in years.

Since time immemorial (or at least since the demographic-marketing explosion also known as the 1990s) the kids have had to put up with ugly, malformed hybrid-cinema: pics that tried to drag in the youth market while packing incongruously grown-up references for the parents; horrible, skate-board-dad movies focus-grouped all to hell; soulless exercises in guerrilla marketing branded within an inch of their poor sitcom-star-does-cinema lives.

And at last, affectionate, with goodwill and good humour, bringing all the sly wit of its illustrious cast, steps Fred Claus into cinema, viewing like a movie unaware that there ever was such a thing as synergistic product-placement, or such a being as a “kidult”!

Vaughn, peddling the same schtick he’s brought to most every role since Swingers, works a treat here, slotting perfectly alongside Giamatti (whose lack of self-consciousness within the world’s most iconic fatsuit manages to make the guy even more respectable) and the always-compulsively-watchable Spacey.

They’re saying, down on the street, that earnest is the new ironic: that our tongues are sore from being wedged so firmly in our cheeks for so damn long. What they’re whispering is that the kids are sick of being branded to, and just want something to take them away and tell them a fun story; and that the adults, if they could get over being so arch and cleverer-than-thou, are probably going to be right there with them.

And if that’s the case, then baby, Fred Claus is just so money.

[originally appeared at Flicks]

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