So you want to watch a Christmas movie with Vince Vaughn in it but you only have time for one. Suddenly you realize that there are TWO Christmas movies with Vince Vaughn it them – how do you choose!? Don’t worry, I have got you covered. First let’s break down the two movies to give you as much information as possible to make this crucial decision!
He just oozes Christmas spirit.
I’m not sure what got Vince Vaughn into the Christmas movie making spirit but when he did, he got into it a little more than usual. He only is a star in two Christmas movies and they were released in back to back years. Fred Claus was released in 2007 and Four Christmases was released in 2008.
Fred Claus is about Santa Claus’ older brother who feels bitter about being overshadowed. Fred ends up needing money and goes up to the North Pole to help his brother for the Christmas season. Fred ends up helping Santa when an efficiency expert comes to perform an audit on the operation and insists on shutting Santa Claus down.
Four Christmases is about an unmarried couple suddenly being forced into visiting their divorced families on Christmas day. Meeting the families puts strain on their relationship and helps them learn more about each other and their goals.
Both movies have a fun premise and with the casting of funny guy Vince Vaughn they seemingly promise lots of laughs. Unfortunately, neither movie really satisfies that promise. I will admit that each movie made me chuckle at least once or twice but neither movie struck me as very funny. There was a distinct difference in the types of humour each movie was going for – which makes sense when you see the ratings for each movie. Fred Claus is rated PG and is aimed at families, where Four Christmases is rated PG-13 and is aimed more at adults.
Both movies also have a fair amount of academy award winners in the cast, 5 for Four Christmases and 3 for Fred Claus, but no one’s acting felt very academy award worthy in these films. Additionally, both movies share the same rating of 5.6 out of 10 on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), though Fred Claus has over 15, 000 more ratings than Four Christmases.
Fred Claus is a sweet movie for a family and you can tell it is aimed primarily at children. Though it is aimed at kids, there are some smart scenes that are definitely aimed at adults such as the Siblings Anonymous meeting that Fred goes to. These scenes help the adults watching the movie with their kids get through the uncreative plot. The movie relies too heavily on physical humour based around Vince Vaughn’s height in comparison to everything at the North Pole and the romantic subplot does not feel necessary at all.
If you thought I was harsh about Fred Claus brace yourself for my thoughts on Four Christmases. I actually saw Four Christmases when it was in theatres and I remembered thinking “ehh that was okay”. I remember laughing more at it and walking away from the theatre at least feeling like I didn’t waste my money. Upon a second viewing, I feel as though there could have been so many things I could have done with that time that would have been more rewarding.
Four Christmases is essentially Meet the Parents that takes place at Christmas but multiplied by 4. It does eventually capture some of the common Christmas themes of love and family which makes the movie less of an incidental Christmas film. The movie has such great modern ideas about showing how blended families spend and share Christmas together but then they ruin it by making every gag so over the top that it stops being funny.
I think the thing that bothers me the most now about Four Christmases that didn’t have such a strong impact on me during my first viewing is how the movie seems to glorify physical violence (as nontraditional domestic violence really) and bullying. Now this movie isn’t aimed at children, but these are not good values for adults and teenagers either. Four Christmases I think tried to indicate that that type of behaviour should not be normal and thus is why the main characters do not want to visit their families – but by making the gags extend and trying to make them funny they end up ruining that goal.
I was really hoping for better from Reese Witherspoon.
Overall, neither Vince Vaughn Christmas movie is spectacular, but if you had to pick one I’d pick Fred Claus. It is heartwarming, appropriate for most audiences (7+) and at least has Kevin Spacey! You’ve seen the redemption story before but it does have its own spirit and it is definitely worth a chance.
Do you agree with my recommendation? How do you feel about Fred Claus and Four Christmases? Let us know in the comments!