Fatman is as ridiculous as its synopsis indicates, but commits to its narrative in hopes that the audience will take it seriously. Santa Claus is not as Jolly as rumors claimed, he is an alcoholic who just angered the wrong child this Christmas. Fatman might find itself on the yearly holiday season must watch list, but for all the wrong reasons because the film is so absurd. A new guilty pleasure has arrived and it’s offering one of the most unique takes on this legendary holiday icon.
There’s an instant feeling of intrigue when you take Santa and alter him from the kid-friendly persona many are familiar with. The red suit is gone, random outbursts of joy cease to exist, and the task of gifting children around the world can be life-threatening. Fatman intends to be a dark comedy, but most of its jokes fall flat, or just aren’t very funny. The humor in this comes from the narrative, which is over the top insanity. Directed and written by Eshom and Ian Nelms, the film stars Mel Gibson, Walton Goggins, Marianne Baptiste, and Chance Hurstfield. Fatman follows Santa who must battle an assassin sent to kill him after a 12-year-old boy received a lump of coal in his stocking.
Billy (Hurstfield) is 12, spoiled, rich, and still is not satisfied because Santa has gifted him with a lump of coal this year. He terrorizes his household while his father travels the world with his girlfriends. Gibson stars as Santa, but he is unpleasant, void of joy, and doesn’t want to be alive it seems. No one in Fatman seems to acknowledge that he is the man that annually breaks into everyone’s house to leave gifts. After receiving a lump of coal, Billy hires a hitman played by Goggins to takeout the drunk Santa. The hitman agrees without hesitation because he has been miserable for years since Santa never gave him the gift he always wanted. The Nelms brothers do an awful job with these characters because audiences will not care for a single person in this film.
Fatman comes off like it was just made out of boredom, but this take on Santa is quite refreshing. The film’s comedic moments come from how awful it gets, and it even incorporates action elements, which felt out of place at times. There is no sense of development for anyone, Santa is still an angry boomer by the end, and Billy is still spoiled rotten. The Nelms brothers do a great job showing off how aging children can affect Santa with their bad behaviors. This is causing a decline in Santa’s business, so military assistance is requested. Also, despite having minimal likable characters, there is Ruth (Baptiste), who is Mrs. Claus and she is the only person worth caring for.
Everyone delivers as far as performances are concerned in this absurd outing. Gibson is great as a miserable Santa and Goggins eats up every scene as the hitman. He comes off intimidating to every character he interacts with and delivers his lines in a menacing voice. Hurstfield makes Billy as unlikable as possible, so if that’s what the filmmakers wanted then he was fantastic. He captures Billy’s disdain for Santa and wonderfully demonstrates how twisted this child can be. Baptiste is amazing as Ruth, she will have viewers wishing they had a friend or spouse like her around. Despite everyone being so naughty, she is always there to brighten the mood and Baptiste does a great job as Mrs. Claus.
The direction in this film is adequate, but Fatman is oddly paced at times. It drags on with these hollow characters, but you’ll find yourself wanting to see how this film wraps because of the solid performances. The cinematography assists the gritty vibe Fatman gives off from start to finish. It will be interesting to see what happens to this film overtime because it could become a guilty pleasure for many to watch around this time of year. However, there is little chance this grows to cult status or anything close because as a film, it is bad to the bone.
At its core, Fatman is about a disgruntled grownup searching for Santa’s address while Santa tries to save his business. It is an over the top, half baked film that has little to offer anyone that watches it. A holiday film that exists just to exercise a fresh take but will leave no lasting impact. Fatman has a special place on the list of Holiday films, and that is at the very bottom.