Vince Vaughn reteams with his Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin for the first time since. It is actually Dobkin's immediately subsequent movie, but Vaughn has had time to do a few in between. They never fell back into Crashers mode because Fred Claus was clearly not that kind of movie.
Dobkin's Holiday Spirit
"The mindset of the film is sort of children and the movie is geared for kids and the kid in all of us is something that we always talk about," said Dobkin. "I think that you go out there and at certain times you have a question of where a joke is going to land or not, but the spirit of the film was very family oriented. It was the Christmas spirit and all of that."
The story of Santa's older brother features a workshop full of elves, flying sleighs and all sorts of magical special effects. It is also a dramatic story about sibling rivalry, naughty children and material greed in this modern age.
"I think that's something where I direct every scene dramatically. I think we actually approach every scene from a true dramatic center. So there's something that's going on in every scene that's true to its intention and true to what the characters are going through, where they come in and where they exit. Then you get into the editing room and you make choices in there whether it's with music or a certain tonality, how to control the colors of it."
One of the climactic dramatic moments is wrought with irony. Kevin Spacey himself longs for the Superman cape Santa never delivered him as a kid. "Obviously, a scene like the Superman cape scene was never going to be comedy, but there's a place of how far you can go with the sentimentality of it and how far you have to pull back. The themes were always running through all of it, even the jokes. I think that's one of the reasons why the movie succeeds the way it does is because you're not always aware that there's a theme inside there until you get to the third act of the movie and you start to realize that it's unraveling."
An intense moment has Fred Claus deem every child in his files nice, because he doesn't want to judge anyone naughty. "Even something like Vince stamping the kids nice, we talked about that moment a lot because you can actually interpret why he's doing it. He can be doing it because he knows Slam isn't a naughty kid. He could be doing it because he's frustrated in the shadow of Santa. There are so many things going on there, but it's an emotional moment. The intelligence of that from a story point doesn't really reveal itself, even in the snowball fight afterwards. 'I didn't think any of them were naughty,' he says it, but even as a character he hasn't completely gelled what that means to him."
Of course, within two hours, people can work out their problems a lot faster than in real life. "You can never get to what you want to say in the moment. Movies are wish fulfillment, he's able to have that moment, you're able to have that speech and it turns the whole movie around. That happens with everything. You watch it with a careful eye and you bring the scenes together."