Fatty is a class R action movie starring Mel Gibson as Santa Claus… I can already feel how many people are shaking their heads. But if you’re more like me, you’d think it could be one of the most entertaining movies of the year.
In this holiday season…
Kris Kringle (Mel Gibson), or as Santa Claus is often called, is real. Everybody knows that. To stay true to his myth, he travels the world on Christmas Eve bringing gifts for good children and charcoal for bad ones.
But after years of generosity, Santa Claus was tired of the modern world. The percentage of disobedient children continues to rise – they even voted for a child in the White House! Lately we see Santa Claus drinking whiskey or shooting cans in a bar. As you can imagine, you don’t have to play with this particular Santa Claus.
Due to the increased influx of coal among stocking fillers, the government threatens to cut a large part of Santa Claus’ funding. To save his company, Santa launches a government project. Instead of toys, his workshop will collect military gadgets thanks to his hard-working and sweet elves.
But when Billy Vanan (Chance Hurstfield), a sociopathic litter (that consciously resembles Ben Shapiro), gets a lump of coal on Christmas morning, he swears revenge. He hires the help of a man named Slim (Walton Goggins), a professional killer who doesn’t like Fatty. While Skinny attends Santa’s workshop, Chris thinks about his place in the world and wonders if he still has what it takes to be Santa Claus.
I think we need to talk about Mel Gibson….
The idea of Mel Gibson playing Santa Claus will immediately put the selected group of critics out of business. I don’t want to discredit everyone’s journalistic integrity, but it’s hard to deny that some of Fatman’s negative reviews had to do with Mel Gibson’s actors and not with the film itself.
I’m not here to judge whether or not people should watch Gibson’s films. It was a tiring debate for me. It’s personal. Either he’s bothering you or he’s not bothering you. I don’t think it’s fair to question someone’s character on both sides.
Although it ruined his career for a while, it certainly didn’t ruin his career. In recent years, Gibson has starred in numerous films, including the award-winning Hacksaw Ridge 2016.
Apart from people’s personal problems, man is undoubtedly gifted. Personally, I’m not his biggest fan when it comes to his work as a director, especially when it comes to a total disregard for historical accuracy and subtlety. Sometimes his historical epic poems go so far with a nationalistic tone that they border on fascism. Nor am I afraid of rumors that the Passion of Christ, a ridiculous giant Catholic gorefest, is still going on.
As an actor, however, no one denies his presence and charisma. This guy looks like he was made for Hollywood celebrity. From his leading role in the post-apocalyptic Mad Max franchise to Martin Riggs’ suicide game in the Lethal Weapon franchise, Gibson has undoubtedly left his mark on the action genre. But even his skeptics have to admit that he has a range. Besides the action genre, he has proven himself in both comedy and drama. He even made a decent Hamlet.
In the role of the fat man of the same name, Gibson portrays ageing and the hard plot he’s been portraying lately, as in Blood Father. It’s both a raw voice and a cool attitude. But just as in this role, he imbues the character with a sense of sadness as he mourns the loss of the Christmas spirit in the current generation of children. Gibson seems to have played that part great. If other actors can play stupid roles, Gibson takes it seriously. Fortunately, the script offers enough warmth, especially in the moments with Miss Klaus (the charming Marianne Jean-Baptiste). When it is finally used as the climax of the film, Gibson is once again convinced that at his age the man can still strike out and look convincing.
Play straight ahead
Fatty’s most surprising aspect is the seriousness with which he presents himself, especially in view of his past. With a smaller author, this film could be a kind of silly joke. Instead, writers/directors (and brothers) Ian and Ash Holmes fill the script with characters who feel tense despite their fantastic aspects.
The Billy Venan character could easily have been a spoiled, shamelessly rich child. Billy’s got all these things, but there’s something else for him. The loss of a parental figure, with a father who never seems to be there. Billy’s obsession should be a first indication of the emptiness gnawing at him from the inside. In the final scene he shows a real fragility, and although we wouldn’t mind being beaten, he’s certainly not a one-dimensional character.
The same can be said of the main villain of the film – Toshma Man, played by the eternal and reliable Walton Goggins. Goggins’ natural comic timing appears in several scenes, but Goggins doesn’t play the character as a joke. Despite the killer’s cold heart, the film depicts a cruel childhood. One of the most interesting aspects of the character is his passion for collecting Christmas presents, which are made in Santa’s studio. He often pays as little as possible for these gifts, just to prove to himself that ordinary people take them for granted. In fact, there’s more going on than was revealed during his last confrontation with Santa Claus.
As we’ve said, there’s also Mrs Klaus, who’s considered Ruth here, and who’s actually my favourite character in the film. As she once was, the statue cooks and takes care of her husband’s needs. But she’s not just a humble housewife. She is strong, wise and even capable of defending herself. The figure could easily have been superfluous, it only had to be a woman, as we have seen many times. Their relationship with Chris seems sincere; you can feel the years they’ve been communicating with each other.
Finally, there are the elves. Yes, the Fat Man has working elves. As usually depicted, the elves are happy here and have nothing against slavery. They also have a fixed diet of sweets, which makes them feel like they are living longer than normal people – in one of the best scenes we see a military officer questioning their superhuman metabolism. It sounds ridiculous, but on the other hand, the film plays everything in a completely linear way, and none of it seems out of place.
Some missed opportunities
Although I admire Fat Man for taking this premise seriously, I really want the film to play some of its satirical aspects. Reference is made to the marketing that was going on at the time, but that alone doesn’t matter much. Much more could have been said about the fading Christmas spirit and the role that society could play in it.
Other aspects of his world could have been explored. How does Santa’s presence in the world influence geopolitical relations? How do companies try to take advantage of its good nature?
The object appears to be large enough to be examined. Maybe in a suite.
If you’re desperate to see a dark Christmas movie, Fat Man is definitely a good candidate. It’s not a movie you watch with your kids every year, and it’s not the down escapist you find on the Hallmark Channel every Christmas. It is a class R film that depicts the myth of Santa Claus in a completely different way.
But it is a surprisingly serious approach to the material, making it more of a personal action film than a direct comedy. I have a feeling this movie will become more and more dear to me when I watch it. In other words, he’s an important candidate for the reputation of a sect. Is it going to be a Christmas classic? Time will tell.
Even from his dark point of view, the Fat Man is not exempt from the Christmas spirit. His last message is positive: Be nice to the children, their smiles are priceless. Even with extreme violence, his message seems to be conveyed in a much more sincere and tasteful way than most Christmas movies that flood the market.
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