“Fatman” is weird – and not in the good way. This very strange, very dark, and very violent holiday fantasy is like nothing I’ve seen before or that I’d want to see again. The plot reminds me of one of my favorite Ogden Nash poems, “The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus.” I have to wonder if co-writers / directors Eshom and Iam Nelms found some inspiration in Nash’s prose.
Times are tough and only getting tougher for Chris Cringle (Mel Gibson). Facing declining business for his team of elves, Chris and his wife Ruth (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) are forced to enter into an unlikely partnership with the government. To make matters worse, Chris is being hunted by a highly skilled assassin known only as Skinny Man (Walton Goggins), an unhinged lunatic hired by a real bastard of a 12-year-old named Billy (Chance Hurstfield) after he receives a lump of coal in his stocking.
Forget daddy issues, these psychos have Santa issues.
The end result is a bloody and brutal, gun-heavy confrontation between Cringle and his would-be killer, wrapped up in the strangest holiday bow of a morality lesson ever to be put in a “’tis the season” movie.
It should go without saying that this is not a feel-good Christmas film. The holiday theme isn’t really important to the narrative, and it serves as a mostly irrelevant angle to try and tie the story together. Parts of the plot seem deeply rooted in American conservatism, with a culture war between the haves and have-nots. Elves toil away while entitled brat Billy verbally abuses the housekeeping staff, forges checks from his grandmother’s pocketbook, and refuses to accept his fair and square defeat at the school science fair (sound familiar?).
Once Cringle agrees to militarize the North Pole, all of the (very, very limited) humor is sucked dry. It’s something the film really can’t afford, and while I understand what the directors are likely trying to convey, the finished project isn’t satirical enough to work.