Bad Santa
Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Brett Kelly
John Ritter, Bernie Mac, Lauren Graham
Directed by Terry Zwigoff
Released 2003
91 minutes

If you like black comedy and hate Christmas, Bad Santa is superb. If not, you will not get the evil joy out of watching this Christmas DVD. Film buffs know it is enough to mention Billy Bob Thornton plays Santa to get an idea of what Bad Santa is like but there is so much more going for this very original and funny Christmas dark comedy. This is NOT a movie for the kiddies.

Thornton plays Willie, a safe-cracking, con man, loser who depends on an annual gig playing department store Santa to pay the bills year round. The Santa gig does not pay much; robbing the store does. His manager and sidekick is Marcus (Tony Cox) the Christmas elf.

Their latest gig is in a Houston department store where John Ritter is the milquetoast manager and Bernie Mac the security chief. All is on the usual screwed-up by loser Santa track until a local kid (Brett Kelly) decides to make Billy Bob Thornton his father figure. There is also a local waitress (Lauren Graham, Gilmore Girls) with the hots for Santa.

Bad Santa is a very anti-Christmas movie. The movie relies a lot on Thornton’s down-and-out character but there is a lot more going for it. Sight gags are subtle (such as the kind of underwear Santa wears under is suit –shown when he is … going down up lady’s chimney). The dialogue is quite good too, “I was against the Clinton impeachment. What a man does with is penis is his own business.”

The finale to Bad Santa is brilliant (and will tug at your heart strings like every Christmas movie should).


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