Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Fatman Movie Poster Image
Gibson's darkly funny Santa Claus movie is violent, profane.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Movie is fairly pessimistic, asserting that an increasing percentage of the world's population is bad and not deserving of gifts. While movie ends on a positive note, it's hard to shake idea that it doesn't represent very much happiness/niceness. A nasty, scheming child does get his comeuppance.

Positive Role Models

In theory, Santa Claus gets at least a few points for being a role model -- bringing joy to the world, etc. -- but this version of him is grumpy and surly and unafraid to resort to violence. In the end, he looks forward to a brighter future, but much pessimism still remains. In a departure from the typical (lack of) representation in many holiday movies, Mrs. Claus is Black.


Guns and shooting. One child threatens another with electric shocks. Character threatens to kill members of a child's family. Main character shot in his side; bloody wound shown. Main character's eye shot out. Many minor characters shot. Characters are killed. Bloody corpse. Blood spurts. Blood spots, trails in snow. A child hires a man to kill Santa Claus. Character's arm broken in martial arts class. Stabbing. Fighting. Hitting someone with chunk of firewood. Kicking.


Santa and Mrs. Claus kiss and are shown lying in bed (presumably after sex). Santa shown shirtless. Flirting. Character considers being unfaithful to spouse.


Uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "t-ts," "ass," "pr--k," "hell," "damn."


Apple computer shown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking in bar: beer and shots. Main character carries a flask and smokes a cigar. Villain smokes cigarettes. Milk dosed with fentanyl.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fatman is an action/fantasy movie that imagines Santa Claus as a grumpy, drinking, gun-toting tough guy (Mel Gibson) who has to fight when a young boy hires a hit man to kill him. There's lots of violence, including guns and shooting, characters getting killed, blood spurts and bloody trails, fighting, stabbing, arm-breaking, etc. A young girl is threatened, both with electric shocks and with death to her family members (and dog). Santa and Mrs. Claus kiss and are shown lying in bed (presumably after sex), with Santa shirtless. There's also some sex-related talk and flirting. Language includes uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "t-ts," and more. Santa smokes a cigar and carries a flask, and characters drink in a bar. The villain smokes cigarettes, and a glass of milk is laced with fentanyl. It's not as funny as it might sound, but it somehow works, even if it's not meant for younger viewers.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12-year-old Written byMaysa_Sh December 4, 2020

If Santa had made it to the 21st Century

The movie departs from traditional holiday movies that have been dominating our screens and which establish consumerism as equal to giving. The movie is dark, b... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old June 8, 2021

Very Dark

This movie is pretty bad and extremely dark. ok for mature teens.
Teen, 14 years old Written byThe_ bay87 November 28, 2020


The language is not that bad there is no sex but it refers to sex. It’s funny and corny and violent but it’s not that bad

What's the story?

In FATMAN, grumpy Chris Cringle (Mel Gibson) is upset, drinking too much, and target-shooting to take out his frustrations. His toy workshop can't make ends meet, and the government subsidy check he receives annually is painfully low because there are fewer and fewer good children in the world who deserve Christmas gifts. While his loving wife (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) tries to keep him going, Chris reluctantly agrees to a contract, using the elves to make parts for military airplanes. Meanwhile, one nasty child -- wealthy, spoiled Billy Wenan (Chance Hurstfield), who's cheated and used threats to win the school science fair -- receives a lump of coal and angrily calls in a hit man (Walton Goggins) to bump off old St. Nick. For the hit man, this is an especially vengeful task, given that Santa Claus never brought him any gifts as a child.

Is it any good?

This strange, dark Christmas movie is a curious mix of fantasy, violence, and surprisingly few overt laughs, but it still somehow seems confident and fully committed to its wild situations. Written and directed by the Nelms brothers, Eshom and Ian, Fatman takes a little while to establish, that, yes, Chris Cringle is the real Santa Claus. He drives a rattletrap pickup truck, but he knows who's naughty and who's nice, he seems to have been around for a very long time, and he has honest-to-goodness elves working for him (they exist on an all-sweets diet). So despite his grumpiness and despite the uneasy real-world connotations of Gibson occupying the role, the character works.

Another secret weapon is Jean-Baptiste as a delightful, no-nonsense Mrs. Claus, supporting Chris and making the situation feel warmer. Goggins is always good at beady-eyed psychopaths, and Hurstfield -- easily drawing comparisons to certain real-world bullying tyrants -- is the perfect little demon child. The tone of Fatman is strange, with pieces and sections feeling like they almost don't quite fit together, butting up against each other and then oddly fitting. It never really feels like it's totally gone off the rails, and it's not entirely surprising, either, but it's just off-kilter enough and has just enough of heart to make it worth a holiday viewing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Fatman's violence. How strong is it? Is it meant to be thrilling? Shocking? How did the movie achieve this effect?

  • How are alcohol, smoking, and drugs depicted? Are they glamorized in any way? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?

  • Is this Santa Claus a role model? Does his iffy behavior make him more entertaining? More human? Does he make fun of or ruin the idea of Santa?

  • Why would the number of "naughty" children be on the rise today? What are some ways to encourage kids to be nice?

  • What's the appeal of "dark" Christmas-themed movies like this one?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedy and Christmas

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