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A 2007 comedy about Santa Claus' estranged older brother, Fred. In the opening prologue, we see that Nicholas and Frederick are two happy siblings. Each year, around Christmastime, Nicholas starts getting more and more charitable. He gives away all his own gifts to poorer children. With their parents constantly praising his kindness, Frederick grows more and more resentful. Trying to show off his own selflessness, Fred makes a birdhouse. Unfortunately, as soon as it's hung-up, Nick saws down the tree to decorate the house. That was the final straw for Fred.
Now, what most legends don't tell us (at least according to this movie) is that when a person is declared a Saint, the aging process slows down not just for them, but for their family as well.
Skip ahead two hundred years, Fred (Vince Vaughn) is a small-time hustler living in New York who appears to be in his 40s. He lives with his English girlfriend (who grows tired of him never having a stable life) and acts as a father figure to an orphaned boy. When his latest scam finally catches up to him (operating his own personal Salvation Army kettle), the only way he can post bail is by calling Nick (Paul Giamatti) for a favor. Despite his brother's callousness, Nick is more than willing to help, though Mrs. Claus (Miranda Richardson) is skeptical. As a compromise, Fred is willing to come up to the North Pole and do a little helping out.
This film contains examples of the following Tropes:
- Actor Allusion: Kevin Spacey plays an antagonistic Obstructive Bureaucrat. Later he does a Heel Face Turn when Santa gives him the one thing he always wanted when he was a kid -- a Superman cape.
- Christmas Elves: The dwarf variety. Except for one inexplicably human-sized elf played by Dr. Kim Briggs.
- Evil Debt Collector: Not only averted (how often does that happen?) but parodied. Fred is a repo man, and is shown repossessing a little girl's Christmas present... a big plasma TV.
- Mayfly-December Romance: One of Cracked's 6 Horrifying Implications of Classic Christmas Movies is that Santa Claus's immortal immediate family suffers from what the article calls the "Highlander Complex": "They will have to watch their friends and relatives wither and die right before their callous, eternal eyes."
- My God, What Have I Done?: Not once, not twice, but three times. Fred realises that his hatred of his family and the holiday has cost him almost everything. The bureaucrat realises how much of an ass he's been when Nick gives him what he always wanted. Then, believe it or not, Santa Claus has probably the biggest of all when he realises that it was his fault his brother turned out the way he did even if he didn't mean it and by proxy he judged probably millions of kids over the years as naughty by only their actions without bothering to ask 'why' they were being naughty in the first place and ruining many a childhood like he did the bureaucrat
- Ms. Fanservice: Really, the only justification for Elizabeth Banks's character being a human-sized elf and having a wardrobe consisting entirely of Sexy Santa Dresses.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Nick flat out destroys his brother's spirit & sense of selflessness in their childhood, and it takes several centuries to mend those bridges.
- Fred, after he accidentally gets Christmas cancelled. However, he quickly realises what he's done & spends the next few days travelling back to the North Pole to fix it.
- Parental Bonus:
- Fred is placed in charge of monitoring the "Naughty or Nice" list via crystal ball. He asks Nick if he could see if the Swedish Bikini Team is being "naughty."
- Don't forget Fred's barb to Nick, asking if he's having trouble "getting the sleigh off the ground".
- Parental Neglect: Freds mother in particular, she seems as incapable of saying anything nice about Fred as she is incapable of finding fault in Nick. Even at the end when then family is brought back together all she can say to him is that his girlfriend is too good for him.
- Parental Favouritism: Obviously their parents towards Nick. When one son is a saint beloved by all the world's children and responsible for rendering you functionally immortal while the other is a grinchy con-man who defined Santa's idea of naughty children, you're going to be a little favouritist.
- Recycled Movie Music: Five cues from Alan Silvestri's Mousehunt score appear in the film (this was due to the film's original score by Rolfe Kent being rejected in post-production and the replacement score by Christophe Beck not being finished before opening, so much of the temp track ended up in the final cut). Silvestri was credited for its use.
- Subbing for Santa: Fred temporarily takes his brother's mantle.
- The Unfavorite: Fred.
- Tropaholics Anonymous: Fred visits "Siblings Anonymous" where the brothers of famous people try to find peace. Among those attending are Frank Stallone, Roger Clinton, and Stephen Baldwin.