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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to His little ones through you in His name by His Word
(2007), PG [Hard PG*] (1hr 47min)
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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)
Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Warner Bros. Pictures, Silver Pictures, David Dobkin Productions, Jessie Nelson Productions
Distribution (US): Warner Bros. Pictures
Director(s): David Dobkin
Producer(s): David Dobkin, Paul Hitchcock, Jessie Nelson, Joel Silver, Vince Vaughn
Screenplay by: Dan Fogelman
Story by: Jessie Nelson, Dan Fogelman
Cinematography/Camera: Remi Adefarasin
Music: Christophe Beck
Film Editing: Mark Livolsi
Casting: Lisa Beach, Jina Jay, Sarah Katzman
Production Design: Allan Cameron
Art Direction: Gary Baugh, Alex Cameron, Patricia Johnson, Giles Masters, Mike Stallion
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6
Fred Claus is rated PG for "mild language and some rude humor", but as a Christmas time movie this one is rather dark. There is a constant theme of malice and familial hatred. The target audience will not likely understand the darkness and malice but their minds and ultimately their personality/character may capture it and use it later in life. This film might be seen as "domestic violence" to the little ones.
In a setting worthy of Rankin Bass classics, Frederick Claus (Vince Vaughn), older brother of Nicholas "Santa" Claus (Paul Giamatti), grows up in Nicholas' shadow. From the favoritism of their "why can't you be more like Nicholas" mother (Kathy Bates) to the stigma of being chiefly known only as Santa's brother, Fred is always being measured by Santa's persona, growing up under the developmentally stifling shadow of Nicholas. Fred came to hate Santa and all there is about him: "I don't hate you, Nick. I just wish you were never born."
During a moment of Fred's rage because of his second-fiddle status to Santa, an efficiency expert who is working to shut Santa down feeds Fred's resentment by telling Fred about the little tree that grows in the shadow of q bigger tree, always groping and stretching to get a little light, A rather pointed example of how we can become a product of our environment: nurture rather than nature. And that nugget of wisdom came from one of those things that is quite likely most responsible, outside of the family, for our nurture -- movies.
By the way, I always note whether a Christmas time movie fails to present the reason for the season, specifically whether it presents Christmas without Christ. Well, this one does include Christ if only in song. The writers presented the politically incorrect Silent Night in the closing of the film. The song included the time-honored original lyrics including "Christ, the Savior is born." Good job, Christophe Beck!
Maybe understandably, Fred does not get along with his family except maybe for his almost silent dad (Trevor Peacock). So much so does Fred not get along with the rest his family Fred chooses not to stay with them to make and distribute toys for kids at Christmas time. He moves to an apartment in Chicago. Santa, of course, stays and marries Annette (Miranda Richardson) to carry on the gift-giving tradition of Christmas.
Part of Fred's life in Chicago is his girlfriend, Wanda (Rachel Weisz) who is getting fed up with Fred often failing to deliver on his promises. Wanda is a parking cop, making it somewhat obvious how the two met. Also in Fred's life is Chief elf, Willy (John Michael Higgins) who may have been a better thespian than Vaughn. And in the fray is young Sam a.k.a. Slam (Bobb'e J. Thompson) who has become attached to Fred. If anybody gets their Christmas wish in this story, it is Slam.
Repo-man Fred tries one money-making scheme after another. Some are not necessarily noble. Fred needs $5,000 for bail money immediately. At the same time he finds a sure-fire deal that requires $50,000 by December 22. Down to his last straw Fred hits up on Santa for the $5,000 that smoothly becomes $50,000. Santa agrees to help Fred out if Fred comes to the North Pole to work for Santa a couple weeks. Fine. To "earn" the $50,000 Fred is charged with going through all the records of every child on the list to determine whether s/he has been naughty or nice.
While all this is happening, the Christmas Board of Directors send efficiency expert, Clyde Nothcutt (Kevin Spacey) to observe operations at the North Pole to determine whether Santa is to be shut down. Santa has a bank of three strikes. If Northcutt observes shoddy operations three times, Santa gets shut down. The Board has already shut down the Easter Bunny and is working on others.
During Northcutt's spying on Santa's operations, Fred and Santa get into a fight and Santa's back is thrown out. He cannot deliver the toys or work the toy making operations. In a twist of fate the tasks fall on Fred. He had to deliver billions of toys by 5:38 AM North Pole time Christmas morning else Santa is shut down. Santa already has two strikes against him. Failure to deliver all the toys would be his third.
One thing said in this film I agree with ... there is no such thing as a naughty kid. I agree with that since all kids who are mentally and physically healthy who turn out "naughty" are taught to be that way. Granted, "foolishness is bound in the heart of a child" [Prov. 22:15] (by the way, "child" includes at-home teens), but whether to and how to act on that "foolishness" is learned / conditioned. This is basic for the finding of the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and a few other professional health agencies which reveals what we have been telling you for years: that viewing, for example, violence in and as entertainment can lead to real life violence; that onscreen behavior mechanics can embolden the observer, especially the youthful one, to behave likewise ... especially since it works so well onscreen. (See Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children, Congressional Public Health Summit for more information.)
Such emboldenment is not limited to violence. Viewing of immoral sex, hatred, lashing out, profanity and a plethora of other aberrant behaviors can lead to them in real life as well. God told us that a long time ago in 1 Cor 15:33, long before these associations were even thought of. But the "hard pill to swallow" about that reality is that emboldenment by viewing onscreen behaviors works both ways: that viewing good behavior [kindness, compassion, clean speech, honesty, integrity, etc.] can lead to real life good behavior as well. Maybe we should try it someday? Maybe today?
There is a lot more to the story and some of it good, but I will leave such discovery up to you should you decide this film is fit. Now to the heart of this service to your kids through you in His name by His Word.
Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
Demonstrations of behaviors such as fraud, fighting and pickpocketting by a child make up the most of the violence/crime contents in this film. [Rom. 12:18] The listing in the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- provides an itemization of the violence/crime findings.
A constant theme of malice and hatred make this film questionable for the little ones. Its "PG" seasonal Christmas time lure should not be the measure used to decide whether to take your little ones to see it. There are four uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary, once by a child; lots of argumentation; a few lies. Fred is also seen demonstrating hateful behavior by intentionally causing damage to important things to make things go his way.
Sexual Immorality (S)
If the writers had left out Charlene (Elizabeth Banks) altogether, the Sexual Immorality investigation area score would have been a lot higher. But n-o-o-o! Had to get some woman flesh in there. Lots of cleavage and lots of leg. The film even included camera angle to force the viewer onto those parts. These program contents were clearly included in the film to be sexually enticing [1 John 2:26]. If not, why did the writers not have Kathy Bates dressed to show skin? And except for Vaughn's legs from the knees down, Elizabeth Banks' was the only "skin" shown.
Besides the skin issue of Charlene there was cohabitation between Fred and his girlfriend Wanda. Also, little Slim made note that he had no idea where he was going to be living since his mother lived with her boyfriends. What a better way outside of actually cohabitating is there than to indoctrinate little kids into the new mindset that it is okay to live together without being married? Man may think so but God does not. [1 Cor. 7:1-2]
If the writers had left out the tavern, Fred Claus would have earned a Drugs/Alcohol investigation area score of 100 out of 100. There is no good reason to ever put booze, drinking, bars, etc. in a kid's film (by definition, "kid's" includes at-home teens). "Why not" you may ask. Well, since you've asked I'll tell you.
The American College of Physicians (ACP) has found that exposure to booze and drinking in and as entertainment emboldens the viewer, in particular the middle school age stratum, the PG and PG-13 age stratum, to challenge and experiment with alcohol.
Though the ACP study used R-rated films since it was believed R-rated films contained the most drinking, the focus is on the influence of exposure to alcohol in and as entertainment regardless of the film rating. Besides, the ACP researchers were not aware of R-13 which defeats the assumption that R-rated films present the most drinking and drunkenness. A finding by Harvard University agreed with our R-13 finding, four years after our finding. As a sidebar note, consider this, too. The MPAA is apparently going to consider all films with smoking in them as R-rated, clearly announcing without trying that smoking in and as entertainment is indeed a negative influence. If so, why not make R-rated any films which present booze and/or drinking and/or drunkenness? [Eph. 5:18] We incorporated smoking into a film's scoring distribution long before the MPAA. Even other film rating websites have plagiarized our methodology. Might that imply others are following our lead? That we are doing something right?
Within the ACP study population of 4544 middle school students (90% were under fourteen years old), the prevalence of having tried alcohol without parental knowledge was
Rather revealing of the influences of the entertainment industry wouldn't you say? And emboldening children to sin with drink in and as entertainment screams of violating Luke 17:2.
I can add to the ACP study that reveals films which present drinking and drunkenness contribute to underage alcohol abuse. I submit that it is not so much the presence of alcohol in films or the rating of the film(s) that embolden youth to abuse it, but is rather the attitude portrayed: the attitude of freedom from authority, freedom from accountability and freedom from consequences. PG-13 and R-rated films, even lesser rated films, are typically heavy with attitude. Our report on this, ATTITUDE: In Perspective -- Investigation Area Scoring and Trend in CAP Entertainment Industry Investigations, Special Report-001 may provide more understanding of the point.
Offense to God (O)
In a moment of frustration/anger (as if frustration/anger excuses it), Vaughn utters God's name in vain in an way to strongly imply the four letter expletive after it. It is sort of one of those fill-in-the-blank verbal assaults on His Word which depend on the listener having heard the expression before, thus causing the dropped expression to form in the mind of the listener. And that makes it a sin on the part of Vaughn (and the writers). [Deut. 5:11]
There were no murders or suicides demonstrated in this film
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***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
Sexual Immorality (S)
Offense to God (O)
|There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.|
|In the name of Jesus: |
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Lord, Master, Teacher, Savior, God.
ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture
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