Lifetime/Hallmark-style lightly saccharine drama rom-com type Christmas movies are Having A Moment this holiday season, I’ve found. They’re all over Netflix and other streaming services, and you can’t log into Online without seeing a bunch of goofs about The Winter Christmas Prince or Hallmark’s A Home For The Christmas Season or whatever. Those are fine and contain a lot of valuable lessons about how Big City Life isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be and that the charm of the small town and the embrace of a guy with a square jaw that owns a flower shop on Main Street is often what’s needed to lead a fulfilling life.
That said, I’ve always had more of a soft spot for the obnoxious, over-the-top kid oriented live action holiday comedies that are dropped into theaters each November, anchored by at least one surprisingly famous person, a handful of character actors, and a bunch of glassy eyed child actors. The type of movies where there is at least one joke about reindeer farts. One landmark of the genre is the 2007 Vince Vaughn/Paul Giamatti vehicle Fred Claus, which was, you guessed it, shot in Chicago. Paul Giamatti plays Santa Claus. Vince Vaughn plays his brother Fred. It’s dumb and not very good and the exact kind of holiday movie that is a ton of fun to throw on in the background while making cookies or decking the halls of your apartment or whatever.
Look at that clip! Ridiculous! Also, that mall where Fred beats up a bunch of Santa Clauses is Water Tower Place! The big fancy mall in the middle of River North in Chicago, right on the Mag Mile, where they’ve also shot at least one episode of Chicago PD, as well as mostly forgotten flicks like Brian De Palma’s Fury, Poltergeist III, and the Rob Lowe sex romp Class. Not a huge legacy of Hollywood glamour here, and honestly, considering the lively atmosphere and tightly coiled, high rise design of this shopping center, I’m surprised it hasn’t been featured more often in movies. Maybe that’s something to work on in 2019? It was the shooting location for at least one other notable holiday film, the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street, which is, of course, set in New York City, but used Water Tower Place for some interior shots!
One of the best things to come out of Fred Claus is this track from the film’s soundtrack, the fabulously titled Ludacris jam “Ludacrismas.” Described by one Youtube commenter as “the most turnt Christmas song there is,” this cut is highly recommended for your next holiday playlist. Thanks, Fred Claus!