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If you're one of those people who consider Die Hard and the first Lethal Weapon film a classic Christmas movie double feature, we've got good news for you. Mel Gibson plays a broke, embittered, hard-drinking, heavily armed Santa Claus in the forthcoming action/comedy Fatman. The official trailer dropped yesterday, and it looks like an irreverently fun, wild ride.
Written and directed by brothers Eshom and Ian Nelms (Small Town Crime), the film co-stars Walton Goggins (The Righteous Gemstones, Ant-Man and the Wasp) and Oscar-nominee Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Secrets and Lies, Blindspot). Per the official premise:
To save his declining business, Chris Cringle (Gibson), also known as Santa Claus, is forced into a partnership with the U.S. military. Making matters worse, Chris gets locked into a deadly battle of wits against a highly skilled assassin (Goggins), hired by a precocious 12-year-old after receiving a lump of coal in his stocking. ‘Tis the season for Fatman to get even, in the action-comedy that keeps on giving.
“I don't know what I'm doing wrong—I've lost my influence,” we see Gibson's Cringle mourn to Mrs. Cringle (Jean-Baptiste) about the decline in his business. “Maybe it's time I retired the coast. Some kids with an air rifle put two holes in the sleigh and one in me. All I have is a loathing for a world that's forgotten.” So when the US military arrives to “procure” his services, he accepts, with the caveat that it will be a “one-time deal.”
Cut to Christmas morning, when young Billy (Chance Hurstfield, The Package, Good Boys) opens a gift from Santa, only to find a lump of coal inside. Billy is not amused. In fact, he is outraged to the point of hiring Goggins' Skinny Man to kill Santa Claus, aka the titular Fatman. Billy demands the big man's head as a trophy, but Skinny Man warns him that heads rot and mold. When Billy next demands his beard, the hit man refuses: “I'm not shaving off a dead man's beard.” (Skinny Man is clearly not fond of his client, since the caller ID for Billy is “Little Turd.”)
The trailer features several other amusing scenes, such as Cringle introducing a visitor to one of his reindeer, Donner. (“You're lucky it wasn't Blitzen. She'll tear your package clean off.”) The elves put on quite a dessert-centric spread for the military troops, insisting the sugar helps keep them young. And Goggins seems to be having a blast playing Skinny Man: building up his weapons cache, brushing up on his mixed martial arts, and taking a few practice punches at a cartoonish Santa head target.
“I've come for your head, Fatman!” Skinny Man taunts when he finally arrives at Santa's wintry base of operations.
“You think you're the first?!” Cringle shouts back. “You think I got this job because I'm fat and jolly?” Yes, we did think that. Turns out we were wrong. “I'll come while you sleep,” we hear Cringle say in an ominous voiceover. “The Fatman has got his eye on you, kid.”
Honestly, if the film is as good as the trailer, we might be looking at a new holiday classic; it would pair nicely with the 1989 French film Dial Code: Santa Claus (a dark precursor to Home Alone). Fatman hits whatever theaters are open on November 13, 2020, followed by a VOD release on November 17, 2020.
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