Depending on how long you leave your decorations up, the Christmas season is over and according to my local Coles, it's Easter time already. Unfortunately, due to my terrible work schedule, I still have Christmas movies to review, so it looks like my decorations are staying up for at least another month.
Fatman (2020) is arguably the adaptation of one "Weird Al" Yankovic property, but not specifically the one named Fatman.
Pictured: Not The Night Santa Went Crazy.
Releasing in cinemas here in Australia, Fatman (2020) was one film I genuinely wanted to leave the house for. Even if I wasn't told to review it, I was excited to see it. Walton Goggins vs. Mel Gibson as Santa?
Where could it go wrong?
Santa vs. a Hitman. That's all I needed. Make Walton Goggins the Hitman and Mel Gibson the Santa? Well, that just sweetens the deal.
With such a simple concept going for a relatively short run time, I was genuinely surprised with the dense plotting. I didn't need that. In fact, it was almost riskier to make this movie more than it had to be, but it paid off! The trials and tribulations of being Santa and the work that goes into that was genuinely engaging. Seeing him do what he has to do and go against everything he believes in, just to keep the Christmas spirit alive was surprisingly brutal and you feel every moment of it.
I can't help but remember the classic Christmas films, where Christmas spirit is dwindling, so everyone has to sing a Christmas carol together and that means the Christmas spirit is alive and yay! It's far more, for lack of a better word, realistic, to see Santa deal with budget cuts and government contracts. It sounds boring when I say it like that, but it works in a way that it absolutely shouldn't.
Pictured: Santa the telemarketer.
And that's just one half of the story: I haven't even gotten to the revenge plot yet. In the more simple side of the story, we explore two people who have lost their Christmas spirit so bad that they decide that killing Santa is the only option: one is a baby Ben Shapiro, the other is Walton Goggins. Walton Goggins has spent his life collecting as much Santa paraphernalia as possible, while Ben Shapiro is just a little sh*t.
As a Christmas film, it really does wear its themes on its sleeves. Sure, you see a different side to "Christmas spirit" and what that means for the government, but you also see what it truly means to lose it, from both Santa's perspective and Ben Shapiro's perspective. What's more important is the two wildly different ways that they react to their circumstances. One with humility, one with damn-Ben-Shapiro-is-such-an-entitled-w*nker.
Pictured: He hates the media because no one liked his script, of course he would try to kill Santa if he got coal.
Before seeing the film, I genuinely didn't know who would be the bad guy. When you cast Mel Gibson in something these days, I can't help but assume his character is gonna be the same sort of person that he is. Luckily, by doing the Detective Pikachu (2019) method of casting villains, I was never confused.
Pictured: Remember when Milo was just a random bad guy in Detective Pikachu (2019).
The ending in particular really drives these themes home. It's a quiet stand off that basically talks to the audience to tell you what the film is all about. Sure, it's a bit blatant, but it's done in such a satisfying manner, I don't care how blatant it is.
9/10 (who the hell expected that?)
I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of the budget went to Mel Gibson's paycheck, but with what they had left over, they were able to do what was needed. Hell, the movie cost 3 million dollars less than Force of Nature (2020), another Mel Gibson vehicle from last year that looked far cheaper.
The Santa's workshop sets weren't garish and extravagant like they are in The Christmas Chronicles 2 (2020), but that's not what Fatman (2020) needed. The sets are very understated, with the workshops being... well... workshops... and his little cottage being a little cottage. The design of the elves is very understated, but effective. Honestly, the way the movie looked I was doubting we'd even see elves because it would be so out of place, but it all worked together well.
The direction had far more care and thought going into it than was warranted. THIS IS SANTA VS. GOGGINS, IT DIDN'T NEED TO LOOK SO GOOD. I wouldn't be surprised if people didn't like it purely based on the fact that they were expecting something schlockier. Hell, if you want something worse, go watch Force of Nature (2020). It sucks. I didn't write a review for it because it wasn't even sucky in a good way. Just meh. Fatman (2020) didn't have to flex so hard.
The performances are fantastic. I hate Mel Gibson for who he is as a person, but seeing the humanity he brought to buff-Santa-with-guns was surprising and refreshing. Marianne Jean-Baptiste plays a huge role in it as his wife, Ruth. The character is incredibly deeply written, and I had to stop and remember that she's Mrs. Claus, and I didn't even like Mrs. Claus from The Christmas Chronicles 2 (2020) as much as I love Ruth, and that was Goldie Freaking Hawn!
Pictured: Sorry Kurt Russel and Goldie Hawn, there's a new Claus couple in town, and I'm gonna cry it's so beautiful.
SANTA VS GOGGINS!
Pictured: Goggins vs Santa.
BUT SO MUCH MORE!
Pictured: Santa vs Goggins.
My only real complaint about this movie, is that I didn't get to make it.