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VOD Review: Fatman

November 24, 2020

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

Written and directed by filmmaking brothers Eshom and Ian Nelms, the offbeat Christmas movie Fatman is one of those films that many will watch based on the absurdity of its premise alone, which was revealed in a pretty wild trailer.

What is the premise, you might ask? Well, to start, Fatman casts Mel Gibson as a grizzled, world-weary Chris Cringle who spends as much time honing his survivalist skills as he does making people merry. That should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect from this dark action comedy.

Losing money on the whole toy operation, with the declining behaviour of the world’s children putting more and more of them on the naughty list, Chris and his wife (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) are forced to enter into a contract with the United States military in order to keep themselves afloat.

The decision to repurpose their Elf workforce into weapons manufacturers comes after a particularly rough Christmas when more coal is delivered than ever. One of the recipients of a lump of coal is Billy Wenan (Chance Hurstfield), a spoiled rich kid who lashes out after receiving second place at the school science fair. Demanding Santa’s head, Billy hires a hitman credited as “Skinny Man” (Walton Goggins), a deranged adult who still holds a grudge against the big guy after receiving coal as a kid, to take him out.

Sounds bonkers, right? Well, it is, but Fatman is also one of those films that doesn’t quite live up to the absurdity of its premise. For starters, the film struggles at times to nail down the right tone. It’s never as overtly comedic as something like Bad Santa, nor is it as dark and twisted as Rare Exports. It’s more gritty than goofy, but also not serious enough to really work as a thriller, which can make it feel stuck in a strange sort of limbo.

While Fatman is never quite as much fun as you want it to be, it’s still mildly entertaining, and does deliver some enjoyable moments along the way. The film is at its best when embracing its campy, B-movie roots, building towards a decently staged shoot ’em up finale that allows Gibson and Goggins to go head to head. Gibson’s take on a disgruntled Santa Claus is amusing to watch, and Goggins chews up the scenery with his over the top performance. If any of this piques your interest, then give Fatman a watch, but temper expectations accordingly.

Fatman is being released today on a variety of digital and VOD platforms. It’s being distributed in Canada by VVS Films.

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