Theatrical release poster
|Music by||Mondo Boys|
|Edited by||Traton Lee|
|Distributed by||Saban Films|
Fatman is a 2020 American action film written and directed by Eshom Nelms and Ian Nelms and starring Mel Gibson, Walton Goggins and Marianne Jean-Baptiste. David Gordon Green and Danny McBride serve as executive producers of the film. The plot follows an unorthodox Santa Claus who must fight off an assassin sent by a vengeful naughty kid.
Filmed in Canada and released worldwide on November 13, 2020, the film received mixed reviews from critics.
Chris Cringle lives with his wife Ruth and runs his Christmas present shop on a farm near the town of North Peak, Alaska. With his income on the decline because of too many children turning too vicious, the United States government, who maintains an interest share in Chris' business, sends Captain Jacobs to propose a two-month contract for producing components for a new jet fighter for the US military. The liaison agents override Chris' misgivings by virtually threatening to withhold the government's subsidies, but Ruth manages to restore his spirits.
On Christmas Eve, spoiled rich boy Billy Wenan receives a lump of coal from Chris for his selfishness, and swearing revenge, he hires his personal hitman Jonathan Miller to kill Chris. After some futile first attempts, Miller coerces a Postal Service supervisor to tell him Chris' address from the letters he receives every year from children around the world. Making his way to North Peak, he trails Chris to the farm, infiltrates the compound and kills all the US Army guards. He is discovered by one of the elf workers; the alarm is raised, and Jacobs manages to evacuate the workers at the cost of his own life, just before Miller blows up the shop.
Chris faces off against Miller and gains the upper hand, but Miller first wounds Chris with a leg-mounted spring blade and then shoots him in the eye, apparently killing him. Ruth intervenes and shoots Miller dead, and because he is essentially immortal, Chris recovers from his injuries. Backtracking Miller's assignment, he and Ruth pay a visit to Billy, warning him that from now on Chris will come for him (and any other kids) if they ever turn against their fellow human beings again. Afterwards, Chris, Ruth and the elf crew start rebuilding their workshop with renewed confidence.
- Mel Gibson as Chris Cringle, who is frustrated with the world turning into an unruly place
- Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Ruth Cringle, Chris' loving wife and moderating influence
- Chance Hurstfield as Billy Wenan, an amoral rich kid who is neglected by his father and cannot stand to lose
- Walton Goggins as Jonathan Miller (credited as "Skinny Man"), a hitman who works in a toy store and has a personal grudge against Chris for "letting him down" in his unhappy childhood
- Robert Bockstael as Captain Jacobs, the commander of the US Army guards assigned to Chris' workshop and his liaison to the US government
- Eric Woolfe as Elf 7, Chris' foreman in the workshop
- Susanne Sutchy as Sandy, a friend of Chris Cringle and barkeeper in North Peak
- Deborah Grover as Anne Marie, Billy's wealthy grandmother whose accounts are secretly fleeced by her grandson to finance his assignments for Miller
Ian and Eshom Nelms originally wrote the screenplay for Fatman in 2006, and had been shopping it around for over 10 years. On May 8, 2019, it was announced that Gibson would play Santa Claus in the film. On January 29, 2020, it was announced that Walton Goggins had joined the cast, and Marianne Jean-Baptiste joined the following month.
Principal photography occurred in the Ottawa Valley (Ontario & Quebec, Canada) and in the Towns of Carleton Place and Mississippi Mills in February 2020. The climatic shootout sequence took four days to film, with the temperature hitting as low as 36 below zero Celsius.
Saban Films acquired the film's United States distribution rights in September 2020. It was released in the United States in select theaters on November 13, 2020. It also received a limited release in Australia on November 19, 2020.
In its opening weekend the film grossed $108,000 from 259 theaters.
On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 45% based on 87 reviews, with an average rating of 5.2/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Fatman takes a surprisingly serious approach to a potentially ludicrous twist on the Santa Claus legend, aiming for edgy but mostly missing the mark." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 40 out of 100, based on 23 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Bill Goodykoontz of The Arizona Republic awarded the film two stars. Chuck Bowen of Slant Magazine awarded the film one and a half stars out of four. Owen Gleiberman of Variety gave the film a negative review and wrote, "Yet you get the distinct feeling that the Nelms brothers think this is all a lot funnier, crazier, and more resonant than it is."
Alonso Duralde of TheWrap also gave the film a negative review and wrote, "It never makes it past the idea stage, unfortunately, since mixing these disparate genres together would require an absolute mastery of tone that the film can't quite muster." David Ehrlich of IndieWire graded the film a D, saying "Combining the crude spirit of Bad Santa with the grittiness of a Zack Snyder film, Fatman is worse than a lump of coal in your stocking."
John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review and wrote, "Less gonzo than it sounds, for better and worse." Julian Roman of MovieWeb also gave the film a positive review and wrote, "Fatman reflects the worst instincts of modern times. It shows how selfishness and immorality can lead to violent outcomes." Hunter Lanier of Film Threat gave the film a 7 out of 10. Chris Bumbray of JoBlo.com gave the film an 8 out of 10.
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- Goodykoontz, Bill (9 November 2020). "'Fatman' should be the dumbest fun. Instead, it's just an action movie with some elves". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
- Ehrlich, David (9 November 2020). "'Fatman' Review: Mel Gibson Plays a Gritty Santa Claus in a Christmas Movie from Hell". IndieWire. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
- Hammond, Pete (9 November 2020). "'Fatman' Review: Mel Gibson Is Santa Under Siege In Routine Action Flick With A Holiday Twist". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
- D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 15, 2020). "Blumhouse Body Swap Horror Comedy 'Freaky' Takes In $3.7M, On Par With Other No. 1 Pics During Fall Pandemic". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 15, 2020.
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- Bowen, Chuck (9 November 2020). "Review: Fatman Squanders Its Lurid One-Joke Premise with Literal-Mindedness". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
- Gleiberman, Owen (11 November 2020). "'Fatman' Review: Mel Gibson Plays Santa Claus in a Movie that Will Feel like a Christmas Gift to the Gibson Faithful and a Stunt to Anyone Else". Variety. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
- Duralde, Alonso (8 November 2020). "'Fatman' Film Review: Mel Gibson Is a Grizzled Santa in a Messy Genre Mash-Up". TheWrap. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
- DeFore, John (8 November 2020). "'Fatman': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
- Roman, Julian (10 November 2020). "Fatman Review: Mel Gibson Offers a Twisted Take on Santa". MovieWeb. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
- Lanier, Hunter (9 November 2020). "Fatman". Film Threat. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
- Bumbray, Chris. "FATMAN (REVIEW) WITH MEL GIBSON & WALTON GOGGINS". JoBlo.com. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
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