BAD SANTA (2003) 

Billy Bob Thornton
Tony Cox
Brett Kelly
Lauren Graham
Lauren Tom
Bernie Mac
John Ritter
Cloris Leachman

Terry Zwigoff



Time: 91 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Comedy/Crime/Holiday

SYNOPSIS: A miserable conman and his partner pose as Santa and his Little Helper in order to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid, and the security boss discovers the plot.

BOTTOM LINE: This holiday tale of misfits and woe has its' laugh-out-loud moments, but there aren't enough of them to string together a full blown comedy hit. BAD SANTA expends much effort to be a Christmas flick for adults – a story without the requisite sappiness and overabundance of joy that usually accompanies film's of this genre – however, it comes off as more obnoxious than clever, failing to generate any consistent level of humor or connection with its characters.

The film's constant attempt to be shocking (which it fails to do) detracts from the weaving of a compelling story. Thornton proves his star quality once again by making you almost like his unrepentantly, abusive, alcoholic asshole of a Santa. Booze is his best friend and though he makes a few new ones along the way, they're never going to replace his one true love. It's completely incomprehensible that anyone would hire this man to be their department store Santa, however, they do, along with his partner, an African American little person who plays one of Santa's elves. I guess they had to follow the plot, no matter how unrealistic.

The month before Christmas is pure hell as they are forced to deal with annoying kids. It is usually only made tolerable by the massive payday waiting for them on Christmas Eve. However, this time, Santa discovers, for the first time, the joy of life without the aid of a bottle. Yes, even BAD SANTA finds love and acceptance during the holidays. Sure it just comes with a hefty helping of drunkenness, sex and murder, but a message is a message. To which I say "Bah humbug." Thornton's "redemption" is absurd and certainly unneccesary in a film of this nature. It's not called BAD SANTA for nothing. Only those people who really hate Christmas will derive any joy from this seasonal offering. At least the cast got paid. The audience deserved better.

"I beat the crap out of some kids today, but it was for a purpose."

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