Fatman is a dark comedy film that takes a realistic approach to the bureaucracy surrounding Santa Claus (Mel Gibson) and his annual operations. It seems that Christmas could be canceled for good when a naughty child hires an assassin (Walton Goggins) to kill off Santa. Fatman is written and directed by Eshom and Ian Nelms and stars Mel Gibson and Walton Goggins. With those two acting names — you could imagine an adventure mixed with the subtle comedic timing — which Goggins has shown us in the past. Pump the brakes.
Christmas Spin:Fatman should be considered just as much of a Christmas movie as The Santa Clause, Fred Claus, or The Christmas Chronicles. The spirit of what makes a Christmas movie still exists, but, perhaps the darker tone pushes the toddlers to the side. The Christmas themes have clever references throughout the film, which give the audience several opportunities for a good chuckle. Fatman progresses with an uninspired and overused motive but still remains enjoyable due to its realistic portrayal of Santa re: Western industrialism. Fatman could provide relief for people over watching the tired “Spirit of Christmas" narrative.
Gibson/Goggins: Mel Gibson as Santa Claus was not on my 2020 bingo board. The "down on his luck" portrayal worked well, though. Practically, Fatman is a different Christmas movie compared to what we've seen, but if Paul Giamatti can get away with slugging it in the streets with Vince Vaughn and Kurt Russell can gruff his way around the world in a sleigh, then Mel Gibson deserves some credit for a unique and entertaining portrayal of Kris Kringle. Walton Goggins appears to be flat and almost cartoonish at times, but this could be due to trying to cater toward the stereotypes of his character, and if so, it also worked wonderfully. He is at the very least, hilarious at moments. Knowing Goggins has extensive experience playing an antagonist, I would expect he relished the opportunity to play up some of the more juvenile aspects to the “classic Christmas" heel.
No Flash: According to online reports, this film was wrapped and went into post-production in less than a week. The filming locations appeared to all be in and around a small town in Canada. This provided some great natural snow and cold weather for the actors to acclimate. There are brief moments of skilled cinematography (by Johnny Derango) that adds some heightened sense of perspective to scenes. However, there are some clear moments wherein a scene was missing, or editing crunched a moment too much to maintain flow.
Fatman sits on the fence of Christmas narrative and wonky creation. Gibson and Goggins provide the meat of this film with some solid performances. This may not be a film you go back to every holiday season, but it can be one to break the dull Christmas movie watchlist.