- Starring: Mel Gibson, Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Walton Goggins
- Directed by: Eshon Nelms, Ian Nelms
- Rated: R
- Running time: 1 hr 40 mins
- Saban Films
There is a great bit at the beginning of the film “Scrooged” in which an upcoming Christmas special is advertised as such: “Psycho’s Seize Santa’s Workshop and Only Lee Majors Can Stop Them – THE NIGHT THE REINDEER DIED!” I thought about that bit while I was watching the newest “holiday” film, “Fatman.”
We meet young Billy (Chance Hurtsfield), a 12 year old boy of some privilege who lives with his grandmother and a house full of servants. Judging by the blue ribbons on Billy’s jacket, he’s a bit of an overachiever. He also misses his father, who has just informed the boy, through his grandmother, that he won’t be spending Christmas with him. Upset at the news, Billy still leaves cookies and milk out for the jolly old elf, anticipating what his present from Santa will be. Sadly, Mr. Kringle DOES know whose been naughty or nice as Billy receives a beautifully wrapped chunk of coal.
In another part of the world, a mysterious man named Jonathan Miller, played by the always amazing Walton Goggins, is visited by a man with a baseball bat to sell. It was a gift from Santa when the boy was young, identified by a genuine “made by Santa” marking. The mystery man buys it and places it on a shelf of similarly crafted toys. He’s also got a grudge against Santa, though his reasons won’t be revealed for a while.
Speaking of Santa – or Kris as his friends know him –he is fretting about the approaching Holiday that, due to budgetary constraints, may not even happen. The news is full of stories about children doing horrid things and there just aren’t as many good ones as there used to be. As played by Mel Gibson, Kris is both wise and wizened. Things get interesting when, in order to make ends meet, Santa takes on a contract from the US Government – they have been subsidizing Santa for years in order to keep the US Economy booming during Christmas – to use his elves to build military plane components. Things go from strange to downright crazy when Billy hires Jonathan – did I mention Mr. Miller is a professional hitman – to take out the fat man! The only thing missing is Lee Majors!
A strange, but entertaining film, “Fatman” is bolstered by it’s amazing cast, who put so much effort into the characters that you readily accept them. Even the elves, who are guided by their foreman Seven (Eric Woolfe) have a realistic premise about them and you find yourself nodding in agreement when they defend their diet of all carbs and sugars – six times a day! And while there is plenty of naughty in the film, there is a fine supply of nice as well, thanks to Mrs. Kringle (Jean-Baptiste). Say what you want about Mel Gibson and his very publicized indiscretions, the man has always been entertaining on screen and he’s no different here. Tough as nails when necessary but he also has an empathy for those who question his motives. Goggins, who I just realized last week was in “The Next Karate Kid” – I caught it on cable – has been someone I’ve enjoyed watching on screen since he played “Downtown” Anderson in “Major League: Back to the Minors.” He has become one of the most sought after character actors, probably best known for his work on “The Shield” and the current CBS program “The Unicorn.” He also won an Oscar 18 years ago for a live action short called “The Accountant.” His hitman is both terrifying and funny, throwing out insults to everyone who deserve them, especially when they try to mess with his pet hamster!
The production values are strong, with a nice gritty detail to Santa’s workshop and employees. It’s not all sparkle dust and gum drops! And the musical score, by the duo composing team known as Mondo Boys, is beautifully composed to fit all of the emotions of the film.
“Fatman” opens this week. It may not be your most anticipated Christmas film but it’s much better than a lump of coal!