Fatman is one of those movies that you can’t help but immediately judge after seeing the promotional material in Australia, especially the posters.
Fatman is meant to be a dark comedy written and directed by Eshom Nelms and Ian Nelms. It centres around a less than jolly Chris Cringle (Mel Gibson), or Santa Claus, who is forced into a partnership with the U.S. military due to financial matters. But his troubles are far from over after he delivers a lump of coal to a naughty 12 year old Billy (Chance Hurstfield). Infuriated with his gift from Santa, Billy hires a highly skilled assassin (Walton Goggins) to kill Santa in retaliation.
This movie’s version of Santa is probably what he’d be like if he existed and lived in current times – weary and grumpy. Exhausted from lack of finances, keeping up a tradition, getting shot by parents on Christmas, having to work with the government to make ends meet and pay his elves.
It’s certainly an interesting take on Santa and the movie does start off promising, however, it becomes apparent that the plot suffers from lack of direction or editing. Fatman is not as bad as the posters might suggest, there are some enjoyable moments with the elves and Billy, cinematography is delightful, and the action scenes are unexpectedly decent.
Where the creators failed is the lack of dark humour in a movie that is meant to have plenty of it. There is not a single scene that could be classified as dark humour, having a moody Mel Gibson as Santa walking around in a bleak environment is not funny. Neither is Billy’s bratty attitude or the Assassin – who mostly does nothing in the movie right until the end.
Fatman doesn’t quite have a target audience which will impact its success at the box office. It’s getting a theater release just in time for Christmas season, a time when families enjoy watching Christmas movies together. This movie is not suitable for children and I am not sure how many adults would take the time to watch a miserable version of Santa whose appearance could pass for a backwoods serial killer.
The creators haven’t developed any of the characters enough to be memorable, the assassin only gets a backstory in the last five minutes of the film, Billy becomes almost a non-entity in the last quarter, Ruth Cringle (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) is only utilised as a cookie maker. Even Chris Cringle is surprisingly a dull character which can only be attributed to writers.
Fatman would have been better suited for a VOD release and probably would have performed fairer rather than in cinemas. As it stands Fatman will be in cinemas in Australia from the 19th of November. 4.5/10