Most adults remember their holiday season end of innocence. For some of us, it varied by a year or two, maybe less, but it was the age in our young lives when we concluded that Santa Claus was, in fact, a myth.
But the cast of the new film Fred Claus — a comedy from director David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) about the brother of the man in red and the difficulties he experiences growing up in his toy-giving sibling’s shadow — point out that Santa or no Santa, the season represents much more than gift-giving and receiving.
“My feeling is that I don’t care if kids think Santa Claus really exists,” two-time Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey, who plays an efficiency-obsessed accountant in the film, explains.
“I still think there’s a desire to believe in something because it’s not about a person ... I hear all the time people say kids are too cynical these days, they grow up too fast and have too much access to this and that. I say yeah, but you’re not six years old.”
Vince Vaughn, who plays the titular character alongside Paul Giamatti’s (Sideways, Shoot ‘Em Up) St. Nicholas, agrees with his co-star.
“I think as actors, there’s that make-believe thing that you have to have. For me what got me through things is that faith in goodness and hopefulness.”
Fred Claus producer Jessie Nelson originally developed the idea for the film when her young daughter Molly asked her one night if Santa Claus had a family.
Stunned, Nelson quickly made up a back-story about the family and a brother she decided to name Fred as a quirky homage to John Cazale’s Fredo character from The Godfather films.
Months later it was writer Dan Fogelman’s turn to take a crack at the story.
While Santa built up his altruistic North Pole empire, brother Fred constantly found himself playing catch-up, eventually finding ironic employment as a repo man in Chicago. But when a money-making scheme lands Fred in jail, Santa bails out his brother on the condition he come to work at his toy shop.
Chaos ensues at the Pole before Fred realizes that he might need to shape up to help St. Nick save Christmas.
“Even when you get to that age for us that can remember where you go yeah, yeah, I don’t believe it or I don’t want to be embarrassed, there is a side of you laying quiet that says I hope (Santa Claus) is there,” Vaughn says. “I still want to believe. I think all of us in our own way as adults still find that way to have that kind of faith.”
Fred Claus opens today.