Australian Council on Children and the Media

Fred Claus

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Short takes

Parental guidance under 8 (violence, themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Fred Claus
  • a review of Fred Claus completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 15 November 2007.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Parental guidance recommended due to themes, and violence.
Children over 8 OK without parental guidance.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Fred Claus
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and violence, Infrequent coarse language
Length 115 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The moment his baby brother 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 and 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.
Fred is there to do a job, get some money and get out as fast as he possibly can. Nick desperately wants to reconnect with his long lost brother, but at the same time is trying to keep his ‘Santa gig’ afloat. There is an efficiency expert (Kevin Spacey) in town 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 and Fred gets a chance to show that he too can shine.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Sibling rivalry; Family breakdown

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • 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 hit 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 and Frisbees and signs before the 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 and wrap Fred against his will and forcibly imprison him. Fred puts up a fight and one Ninja crashes through a window.
  • A DJ attacks Fred, who 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 between the two men 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.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The scene where Fred and Nick fight might disturb some younger viewers, especially as Santa winds up injured and unable to perform his Christmas duties.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • A boy runs to Fred begging him to tell a social worker that he is his father. It turns out that the father has died and social services have intervened to remove the boy from an unfit home. (Aspects of his home life were alluded to in earlier scenes.)

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children over 8 are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children over 13 are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film

Product placement

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

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • 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.”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • 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.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

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

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “Crapper”, “hell”
  • name-calling such as ‘Punk’ and ‘Thunder thighs’.

In a nutshell

Fred Claus is a comedy featuring some good performances and funny special effects. The plot is predictable but will likely be enjoyed by families wanting a Christmas film.
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.
Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • belief in yourself
  • persistence
  • seeing the positive in other people and looking past their negative actions.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of family and the roles and responsibilities that members have in relation to each other.

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