Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: FATMAN

After all the controversial things that Mel Gibson has been up to between the years of 2000 to 2010, ranging from that infamous 2006 anti-Semitic rant after being pulled over by a cop for a DUI to screaming at his then girlfriend back in 2010 using racist remarks and even the n-word to homophobic comments, how does this Academy Award winner still have a career after multiple falls from grace? Even after the 2017 #MeToo movement? Well, first of all, his talent is undeniable, he’s an Oscar winning director and he’s an actor that can more than exceptionally pull off any character in any genre. Secondly, he still has a deep bench of Hollywood supporters, ranging from people still in the industry such as Jodie Foster, Robert Downey, Jr. and Whoopi Goldberg. Finally, current Hollywood producers attribute his past misdeeds mostly due to alcoholism, pointing out that he has never been accused of sexual assault, alcoholism is a disease, and that he’s not the person he is made out to be in the headlines. In a 2016 and recent interview, Mel Gibson has stated that he is currently many years sober and finds it annoying that people keep bringing up his past shit, not willing to give him a second chance…or would that really be a 4th or 5th chance Mel? Anyway, Mr. Gibson is still in the movie making game, still attached to direct the big remake of The Wild Bunch, and still starring in some movies, albeit low budget ones, like Force Of Nature, Last Looks, Dragged Across Concrete, Boss Level, and a semi-budgeted one…bet you didn’t remember that he was in Daddy’s Home 2, did you? This leads us to FATMAN…one of 2020’s best little surprises of the year, where Gibson plays Santa Claus and per IMDB, “must contend with a hitman sent from a disappointed child.” Yes, I assure you that this is a real movie.

When I heard of FATMAN only several months ago, I thought it was a joke. Turns out it wasn’t, as just several days later, to my surprise, I found out that the movie had already been filmed and a trailer dropped. I watched the trailer, and was immediately intrigued. This wasn’t just a schlocky bullshit turn like his roles in The Expendables 3 and Machete Kills. This was a movie meant to be taken very seriously (even though the film has genuine and earned humor). He plays Santa Claus straight, as a very old, tired and weary man still doing his job even though the world has gotten dark around him. It turns out, every year there is less and less good kids to deliver toys to and it’s gotten so bad, to make up for lost money from the government (that’s right, the government pays him to do his thing once every year because it is a giant money maker), he accepts a military contract that has his elves make something…a little bit different than children’s toys. Currently, most of the kids in this cinematic Earth (could be argued that it’s truer to our world than you might imagine) are naughty little assholes that get their just desserts by receiving lumps of coal from him. One particular little shit (one of the movies expertly crafted jokes has this little shit listed as “Little Shit” in the hitman’s list of contacts on his iPhone), is a sociopath son of a bitch, manipulating school science contests, stealing money from his grandmother and of course, sending said hitman after Santa’s head once he gets a lump of coal for Christmas. What I love about the movie is that it tries to bring the audience a down to Earth type Santa Claus. You know how Man of Steel was supposed to be a tale of Superman but in today’s time? A more realistic Superman? Whether or not you think Zack Snyder and co. pulled it off is a different story. Basically, Fatman asks the question: what if Santa were really real? In today’s world? And I think this film pulls off that idea in spades.

And the reason it does that so successfully, in my opinion, is probably because of the low budget and what little it shows the viewers on screen. We don’t get Mel Gibson walking around in a red Santa suit and travelling the world. We don’t see the sleigh or reindeer fly. We almost don’t see any magic whatsoever where you’d have to suspend your belief for the world that the movie takes place in. It only hints at all of that stuff, which I thought was the right direction to go, and was quite fucking brilliant. The acting here is top notch, the little bastard that plays the “Little Shit” is pitch perfect by not going too over the top, just enough to make him a character you love to hate. Justified and The Unicorn’s Walton Goggins plays the hitman, with his own anger and obsession with the big red fatman. It’s also a great role that has more meat to it than you might think in a movie like this. But the movie is the Mel Gibson show, and he shows that he wants to be there. He acts HIS ASS off. He has tears in his eyes convincingly when he needs to, the chemistry between him and Mrs. Claus, played perfectly by Marianne Jean-Baptiste is undeniably great, and the silent moments where he is by himself looking at something are convincingly masterful. He is so serious, that near the final showdown with the hitman, which is one of the best Mel Gibson final 1-on-1 show downs in quite a long time, where he is shirtless and getting his guns and weapons ready to go outside, I just laughed out of pure joy to what was transpiring on screen. I am not familiar with the films writers/directors/brothers, Ian Nelms and Eshom Nelms, but they sure do know how to make a high, yet low concept movie. I hope they make more stuff in a similar vein. If I had any complaints is that I wish they would’ve shown blood and other stuff, shown more of the violence in the scenes before the final big showdown at the military compound. They cut away when a bullet fires or Goggins kills someone before that, and I think the movie would’ve had more of an impact if it didn’t cut away. But boy does that bloody showdown make up for it. Anyway, if you like demented adult Christmas movies such as Bad Santa, Better Watch Out, Gremlins, the original Black Christmas, Christmas Vacation, then you are going to LOVE Fatman.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MIDNIGHT AT THE MAGNOLIA (Netflix)

Why did I watch MIDNIGHT AT THE MAGNOLIA? Mainly because my last several reviews have been Christmas/Holiday related, I thought it would be cool to post a bunch of new holiday themed movie reviews in a row, and I needed a quick break from my re-binge of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (of which I’m about to be on the 6th season’s very special Christmas episode). Also, Natalie Hall is the main female lead in this and while almost everything I’ve seen her in she’s only had bit parts, I have always found her extremely beautiful. So I thought, “what the fuck, why not?” “Well, how was it, you ask? If I was in ANY other type of mood, I would rip it a new mistletoe. However, since I went in expecting predictable Christmas-y, New Years-y, romantic schlock, it was serviceable. A lot of people that eat up shit like this that don’t know any better will love this film to death. To warn you all meticulously, this is only about half a notch from being a Lifetime TV Holiday movie of the week. A half a notch, so that’s why it is on Netflix, HAHA! Technically since it is a 2020 movie, presto, here is my review of it. If watching a romantic film like this is your thing, where ALL of the acting is over exaggerated and toeing the line of over the top overacting, you can predict what the ending will be minute five, the whole thing looks like it was shot on a $50,000 budget, but it ends up having a sweet message and a good heart, well you are in for a festive treat. But if you are a film Grinch like me, stay far far away unless you had one of those “random boring moods” such as I described above. Per IMDB, it describes Midnight At The Magnolia with the following: “Longtime friends and local radio hosts Maggie and Jack fake it as a couple for their families and listeners from the day after Christmas till New Year’s in hopes of getting their show syndicated.”

 Yes, some of you probably groaned as I did when you read two of those words. A boy and a girl “longtime friends”? There is no way that this happens. There is no way that two people like that in the real world haven’t accidentally had a night of regrettable but hot fucking by mistake. Especially when they have known each other since they were little. You can’t tell me that there wasn’t an intentional boob or penis graze and a drunken tryst of making out a couple of times. The most believable thing in this movie is that the two are radio hosts. Lead actors Natalie Hall and Evan Williams have the voices for radio and the camaraderie friendship depicted in the movie necessary for a real gig like that, where you end up wondering why those two don’t just maybe give up their day jobs and go into that profession. The acting is decent for what it is. Both Williams and Hall and all the other supporting characters match each other in terms of just how close to the ”over-the-top” line of overacting they can get without completely crossing it. And both Williams and Hall have a couple of scenes where they show that they are better than the material that is being written for them. I would’ve rather watched a movie of the two of them hosting their radio morning show for an hour and 27 minutes (the length of the movie). Alas, it was not meant to be. BUT…the movie is upbeat, quick, and moves at an entertaining pace, there is some silly banter between characters that worked. Evan Williams twisted some of the dialogue to work better and added some funny facial expressions to make the part his own, which is always appreciated. I believed in their friendship, even with over 75% of it being very clunky dialogue. Also, even with the short run time, I believed in them eventually falling in love. If you just got mad because I spoiled the movie for you, that’s your problem, and you are a dumbass if you thought it would’ve ended any differently. It has a 6.1 rating on IMDB from 951 reviews, which is not half bad for that website. It just goes to show you, sometimes I can stick my opinions up my own chimney. (PSSST…if you didn’t get that metaphor, by ‘chimney’ I meant my asshole.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: JINGLE JANGLE – A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY (Netflix)

Move over Christmas Chronicles, Netflix now has a new (and better) Christmas movie for families to watch together every year, JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY. I doubt that the Christmas Chronicles sequel, which releases next week, will over take this one for me, considering that the first movie is…only okay….sorry Kurt Russell. And if you have a problem with me saying that this is a ‘Christmas’ movie and not using the word ‘holiday’…well, not to mince words, but you can shove it up your butt hurt triggered 2020 asshole chimney. While the movie is shot, cinematography wise, like a television movie, and my wife and I discussed mid way through how this could easily be turned into a Broadway stage play in the future, the rest of the production is top notch. It has a wonderful production design, half way decent CGI for what it is, the musical song and dance numbers were fun and memorable, none of the actors phoned it in, including one of Forest Whitaker’s best performances in quite awhile…it has the Christmas works. Per IMDB, it describes Jingle Jangle with the following: “An imaginary world comes to life in a holiday tale of an eccentric toymaker, his adventurous granddaughter, and a magical invention that has the power to change their lives forever.” While the story ends up being a bit familiar (you know, the whole love, loss, redemption one audiences has seen a thousand times), and I would also say the movie is about 15 minutes too long (it’s a heavy 2 hrs and 2 minutes), the rest of the film was joyfully jolly and jovial enough to forgive it’s trespasses and go along with it for the rest of its wonderful journey.

Forest Whitaker is first billed here, and I’m glad that he wasn’t just playing himself in this one, as his character has some quirks to be kinked out, and his performance here earned the believability of his redemption arc. But he is not the true star of the show. That would be newcomer Madalen Mills, who plays his grandaughter, Journey. If it wasn’t for her pure of heart and delightful performance, Jingle Jangle simply couldn’t be what it ultimately is: very lovely. Ricky Martin voices a cute yet suspicious little CGI figurine come to life, whose MacGuffin-ness I dare not spoil here. There is a cute robot named Buddy 3000 that shows up halfway through the film that people are calling the next ‘Baby Yoda’, and although it is cute and made me smile, I think anyone who says that it is in the same ballpark of cultural impact that the new Star Wars character has, is just kidding themselves. The one actor that I felt got short changed in this movie is the other half of Key & Peele, the one that hasn’t won an Oscar, Keegan-Michael Key. He plays a wonderful little villain and has some great chops and can dance spectacularly with the choreography given, but other than his first big musical song and dance number, he isn’t in the film all that much. The climax of his character in the climax of the film is a bit anti-climatic as well, and although the movie had a bunch of very early set ups that were paid off during this scene, it just felt like Mr. Key was shortchanged a bit with his role. But maybe this could be an audition for bigger things for him. I hope it is. Anyway, if you want a decent streaming new Christmas movie because you won’t go to the theater and you’re are finally tired of watching the same Christmas stuff because the walls are finally starting to cave in on your 2020 bubble, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is here to blow some air into it to keep it from completely collapsing.