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  Fatman Santa Claus Is Coming To Blow Your Head Off
Year: 2020
Director: Ian Nelms, Eshom Nelms
Stars: Mel Gibson, Walton Goggins, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Chance Hurstfield, Susanne Sutchy, Robert Bockstael, Michael Dyson, Deborah Grover, Ellison Grier Butler, Eric Woolfe, Lynne Adams, Ekaterina Baker, Natalie Darbyson, Corbin Smyth Currie, Paul Whitney
Genre: Drama, Action, Thriller, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Chris Kringle (Mel Gibson) has been in this job a long time, maybe too long, as he has seen his formerly respected position as the most Christmassy person alive gradually debased along with the festive season to wind up as a celebration of greed. Embodying that is twelve-year-old Billy Wenan (Chance Hurstfield), son of a billionaire who always gets his own way and is fully expecting to be rewarded for his privilege with a bumper haul of presents, but as the big day looms, there is a fly in the ointment when his usual first place at the school science fair ends up as the runner-up thanks to a girl in his class judged better than he is. And worse is to come...

The claim that Christmas ain't what it used to be, that it has become commercialised and is merely an excuse for excesses rather than any improvement of the soul and goodwill to all men, all that religious stuff, basically, is hardly new, indeed there's evidence people have been making that complaint for centuries, yet maybe every era needs its own reminder of the spirit of the season. Be that a Dickensian tale from Victorian times, or one of the countless retellings of that tale down the years, or It's a Wonderful Life on television every Yuletide, or some very special episode of a TV show that will devote its running time to imparting a lesson in decency to its characters.

And you all watching at home, naturally. Fair enough, a creative would have to be particularly brave or foolhardy to make a movie or programme about how the real message of Christmas is to receive gifts and feed your face, but in a way it might have been more appropriate to Fatman; even Bad Santa relented by the end, and more of its cynicism would not have gone amiss in the Nelms Brothers' action flick. But nope, those pesky morals would get in the way time and again, and so it was here, as there was a nasty little piece of fun struggling to get out of this hard-edged fantasy, though it never quite made it to the surface, leaving its Santa Claus to deliver its lessons the hard way.

Gibson was interesting casting, given his over-dedication to Christianity, and while you could argue Father Christmas was more a figure with mysterious pagan roots there was little doubt that despite never being mentioned in The Bible, he represented some form of Christian values which you imagine would appeal to the heavily bearded star. What with this Santa enforcing the holiday spirit with firearms and his own militia to guard his present-making elves, was it unwise to expect Gibson's long-promised Passion of the Christ sequel to feature Jesus resurrected, heavily armed and out for revenge? Because this was more or less what was on offer here, as our none-too-jolly hero has revitalising powers of his own (handy when teenagers take potshots at him from the ground as he flies by on his sleigh).

Not that we ever see him delivering the presents in Fatman, we just see his financial woes as he is being forced out of business thanks to the government subsidy scheme he relies on drying up. This means not every child is getting what they want, and the bad ones, who Santa knows have been naughty, are getting lumps of coal, which is what Billy receives, to his fury. Billy has a hitman on his staff, played by the always welcome Walton Goggins, and he sets him to work on tracking down Chris to basically execute him for not providing the presents he felt entitled to. It was an extreme version of the ghastly kids who scream the place down if they don't get their way, and Hurstfield was dressed up in mini-Donald Trump manner, just in case we didn't get the joke. However, if there's one thing this wasn't, it was funny; quirky, yes - Goggins only shows affection to his pet hamster, for instance - but there were no actual gags beyond the absurd premise. Also of interest, Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Mrs Kringle, for it would be intriguing to know her motives for taking the role, but mostly this coasted on its sheer oddity and not unearned grit. Music by the Mondo Boys.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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