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If the insipid, family-friendly, Christians-über-alles propaganda that
is unleashed every holiday season has you dreading the end of every
year, do not despair. Relief is at hand, and it is a supreme irony that
it should come from mainstream media sources that normally drown us in
the garbage I just spoke of. Columbia Pictures woke up and realized
that there are people who don't fit into the Nuclear Family, 2.3
children mold that MoneyMas is normally marketed to. That's what Bad
Santa is all about.
Our story focuses on a failure who fritters away his years by working stores as a Santa. As the film opens, we learn why he bothers with the Santa routine. His midget sidekick sneaks into the store he is casing, then disables the alarm, and together, the team loots the store for all they can get. Our main hero, however, wastes away everything he makes from this endeavor. As a result, he is there casing a store the next year, but things don't go quite as smoothly as he plans during the year depicted in this film.
First, he meets a rather attractive bartender. Played by Lauren Graham of Whingemore Girls fame, her turn in this film could not be more far removed from what she is known for. It is almost as if she wanted to take a big dump on people's expectations of her. In this endeavor, Lauren's character is a foul-mouthed nymph with a Santa fetish. Speaking of foul-mouthed, it takes some real nerve to make a MoneyMas film that, at 243 profanities, sets the record for MoneyMas films. Before Bad Santa, I doubt there even was a record of this type for MoneyMas films.
Two major names were signed onto this film, but had to drop out due to other commitments. These being Bill Murray and Jack Nicholson. It is just as well that they did, because the casting here is perfect. Who else but Billy Bob Thornton could deliver lines about what his female costars aren't going to do right for a week with such conviction? Billy Bob says that he was actually drunk during filming. Which adds a whole new dimension to the film - trying to determine which scenes were filmed drunk or sober.
There are going to be people crying that this film is offensive, or not in the "true spirit of MoneyMas" (whatever that means). Quite honestly, with the saccharine feel of MoneyMas, we need *more* films like Bad Santa, not less. The holiday suicide rate would be reduced if people who saw this time for what it was, a time of worshiping the bigger wallet, had greater access to material like this.
I gave Bad Santa a ten out of ten. There is no film on Earth that has been marketed to tie in with MoneyMas, not Santa With Muscles or even the Star Wars Holiday Special, that I have enjoyed this much. See it once, see it twice, see it as many times as you need to get through the so-called Holiday Season.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is a breath of fresh air in so many ways. It's hilarious. On the surface, it's off-putting. Just for starters, there's the profanity, and the dedicated immorality of Billy Bob Thornton's mall Santa character, Willie, and everyone around him. In a way Willie is like a particularly evil version of Bill Murray's grumpy curmudgeon character in Groundhog Day. But Bad Santa has so much the ring of truth to it. When Willie -- a thief, alcoholic and conman -- is forced to look after a determinedly sweet little boy, he discovers he does have a heart somewhere in there and he might just be a rough diamond. The little boy is just the best actor. In fact, you will rarely see a better performance from a child. Some of it is the script, but also the boy plays it so naturally deadpan that most of his lines are hilarious. Good on the directors for going with someone unconventional and not just the cookie-cutter cute kid. The caustic, crude, very un-jolly Billy Bob Thornton is born to play the role of Bad Santa. The movie won't be to everyone's taste, but those with any sense of subtlety and a wicked sense of humour will find it a joy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a cynical and rather amoral film about a man who has had enough
of life. He drinks and drinks, swears, pees in his pants and somehow
still pull the ladies. Well this is Hollywood and he is an expert safe-
cracker. Along with his midget assistant who plays the elf, Billy Bob
Thornton plays Santa Claus at various shopping malls every Christmas.
However this is a prelude to rob the malls and spend the rest of the
time getting drunk in Miami before next Christmas arrives.
As Santa's go, he is mean, foul mouthed and nasty. He is bad Santa. As a comedy it does not really work unless you like seeing an adult being mean to kids although John Ritter and Bernie Mac do provide the laughs. Its more of a black comedy-drama of one man on the edge who finds some sort of humanity when he encounters a kid and see's some genuine kindness and forms some sort of bond and understanding.
Without doubt the picture wrong-footed me as I expected a big lapse into sentimentality at the end of the film but Billy Bob Thornton's Santa has a heart smaller than the Grinch and although there is some light at the end and Bad Santa does thaw its not a mushy ending and there are other's in the film who are more nastier and cynical than Bad Santa.
I think Billy Bob played an awesome Santa, in a homely poor looking "Eating, drinking, shitting f**king Santa Claus". I could picture Santa being like that if he lost his job or retired, just going downhill in life with the booze drinking and everything. My jaw dropped when I heard Santa curse in front of the kids and not to mention coming to work either hung over or drunk and sneaking a booze. The best part was when he came to work... I guess both hung over and drunk the same time, trips over everything and getting into a fight with a statue horse, (yeah, pretty weird if you ask me) while the kids were like OMG!! I was wondering why a kid would want a stuffed elephant, pink or purple. That kid had some issues going on with him, as well as his oblivious grandma who always passes out on the couch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's offensive, repulsive and foul-mouthed. It's rude. It's lewd. It's entirely filthy. It's constantly depressing. It's completely irresistible, outrageously funny, and it's inherently decent. It's holiday fun for everyone, except for kids. Rated R for vulgar language and gross humor, this is an adult's comedy. At its heart, Bad Santa displays the bonding relationship between Willie and The Kid. Willie is a miserable alcoholic sleazebag crook who makes his due by pulling apparently clever department store heists each X-mas while posing as a mall santa. The Kid is bright, inexperienced, and irritating and in assured need of a father figure. These two have a lot to offer each other. Billy Bob Thornton plays a very bad santa, and gives one of the top performances seen from a comedy. Bad Santa is Thornton's movie. Bernie Mac and John Ritter do their best to try and steal the show. Mac is deplorable, and Ritter is adorable. I cannot stress enough John Ritter's pleasant performance. This was his best role, and he was on the verge of soaring into a greater stardom. The same could be said for Bernie Mac. God rest their souls in loving memory. Tony Cox has a number of enjoyable roles, though he is at his best here as Marcus, Willie's loathsome partner in crime. Brett Kelly is fine and perfect as The Kid. Lauren Graham fits this movie well, but is relatively out of her league. Let me say, Bad Santa is incredibly presented and well-designed; it has brilliant progressive storytelling. It really stands out in this area. Every scene is purposeful. I give Bad Santa a great 8. I could watch it time and time again.
This film is about two men who dresses up as Santa and the elf to rob
"Bad Santa" is a very crude film, with lots of swearing, sex and alcohol. It's the exact opposite if what we expect from Santa. Such out of stereotype behaviour is at times funny, but what stands out from "Bad Santa" is the touching bond between Santa and the plump kid. The unlikely bond between them signals their desire for friendship and attachment. The kid's plea for a present from Santa, and his genuine offer of friendship to Santa is touching. Santa's effort regarding the pink elephant is satisfactory to watch, bringing warmth to the hearts. "Bad Santa" is not the typical Christmas film, but it still touches your heart with its unique way.
"Bad Santa" is the perfect antidote for those people tired of the usual
run of feel good and family friendly holiday fare. It's got one hell of
a funny and extremely profane script, and presents a man who just may
be one of the worst Santas ever.
He's Willie (Billy Bob Thornton), a miserable alcoholic with a bad case of self hatred who lets himself get dragged into one department store robbery after another by his conniving "elf" partner, Marcus (Tony Cox). Things finally take a different turn for Willie when he encounters Thurman (Brett Kelly), a portly, bullied young boy who lives a very isolated existence; he's got a dad in prison and a grandmother (an uncredited Cloris Leachman) who's not all there. The kids' sincerity and need for friendship set off something inside Willie, who after all this time has found something to live for.
Thornton is wonderful in this role, one of the best of his career, and the other roles are equally as well cast. Cox is a hoot, as is Lauren Tom as the getaway driver, Lauren Graham as the sexy bartender who lusts after Santa Claus (!), and late talents Bernie Mac, as a security chief who learns the truth about Willie & Marcus, and John Ritter (to whom the film is dedicated) who's good as the uptight store manager. Director Terry Zwigoff ("Crumb", "Ghost World") makes the most of the blackly comic screenplay by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. It's a delight because it's so fresh and unpredictable in terms of what outrageousness the filmmakers will sling at us.
Plus, there's just something irresistible about the time honoured premise of giving a pathetic character his much needed chance at redemption. (The film really isn't too far removed from "A Christmas Carol" in this regard.) As much as we laugh at Willie, we're too uncomfortably aware of how much his life stinks, and how well he knows it. As a result, Zwigoff maintains a really fine balancing act between the wilder moments and the more human ones.
Provided the viewer is more than ready to handle all of the obscenities, and a story that gets dark at times, they should have a high old time with "Bad Santa".
Nine out of 10.
Yes i regret for don't see this film in the cinema in 2004 here in Mexico City. The reason is that i'm not a big fan of Christmas films and also i'm not a big fan of Billy Bob Thornton (only in The Man who wasn't there, that's a great performance). Finally about two months ago i buy the DVD of Crumb and i love it and well i buy also Bad Santa because is the same director. And i really like it. Great characters and really great humor with the style of the producers (Coen brothers) but i put 9 because with Billy B. T. character and his dwarf friend and also the fat kid this could be a better film because this characters have really great humor. I think it missed to see more about the characters but well still a nice film to watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film made me laugh out loud all the way through. I love grumpy, sarcastic and cynical characters and BB Thornton's Santa was the epitome of this. While it falls into the "bad guy turns good" category, it is far from the cheesy American nonsense we are used to. You spend the whole film just wishing that the main character will turn the corner and be that good guy and when he finally does, it is not in the traditional sense, he still keeps that sarcastic pessimism to the very end. Highly entertaining.
There is killer 1-liners throughout, watch this film.
"I'm an eating, drinking smoking, sh#tting Santa" "How could someone drop me on my own head?" "You ain't going to sh#t right for a week!"
In this wickedly subversive comedy, written by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
and directed by Terry Zwigoff, Billy Bob Thornton plays a department store
Santa who drinks on the job, cusses a blue streak in front of the kids, wets
himself in his suit, and fornicates with patrons in the ladies' dressing
rooms on his coffee breaks. As if all that weren't enough, when his annual
stint is finished, he turns around and burglarizes the very stores that have
hired him for the season. Willy's partner-in-crime is a midget named Marcus
who dresses as one of Santa's little helpers but who is really the `brains'
of the operation. Willy has sunk so low in his life that he makes periodic
attempts at doing himself in. One Christmas he meets a lonely young boy who
believes that this burned-out shell of a man is the real Santa. The kid
begins to follow Willy around, badgering him with endless questions about
Santa's personal life in the North Pole, utterly unfazed by the rude, crude
responses he receives in return.
The best thing about `Bad Santa' is its total irreverence, its complete indifference to any and every code, standard and tradition. It is utterly without shame. While familiar carols play endlessly on the soundtrack, Thornton and his crew act out a macabre black comedy that literally rips to shreds every sacred image and sacrosanct concept related to the world's most cherished holiday. Even the choice of setting summer-like Phoenix with its searing hot pavements and fully blooming foliage in the dead of midwinter reflects the skewed, off-kilter tone of the film. There's something downright perverse about lyrics like `let it snow, let it snow, let it snow' blaring from mall loudspeakers when shoppers are in shorts and t-shirts and the temperature outside is 85 degrees. And the filmmakers play up this perverseness for all its worth.
The finest scenes in the film involve the interplay between Willy and the boy, known mainly as `The Kid' for the majority of the film. It is the counterpoint between Willy's complete and utter cynicism and the kid's naïve imperturbability that serves as the engine fueling the comedy. Without the kid, the story would be little more than a one-note riff on a nasty Santa. The youngster provides the heart that makes the whole concept work.
Thornton has been handed one of the plum roles of his career and he certainly makes the most of it. Most actors would kill for a part like this, yet few would have been able to turn this loathsome character into such an appealing figure. Rather than shy away from the harsh realities of the character, Thornton allows us to see the genuine pain lurking beneath the man's surface. Yet, whenever the film threatens to turn wistful and sentimental on us, Thornton rescues it by slipping back into character and landing a good kick or punch where it will do the most good. Young Brett Kelly is magnificent as the kid who manages to turn Willy's life around. His deadpan responses to even the most outrageous comments and actions perpetrated by this unconventional Santa provide some of the best laughs of the film. The movie also boasts fine turns from Tony Cox as Marcus; Bernie Mac, as a store security manager who wises up to the game these two are playing; and the late John Ritter, as the nervous store manager who bends over backwards to make sure he doesn't offend anyone, even those who most deserve offending. The film, itself, is certainly not afraid of offending large segments of the population, as it makes light of alcoholism, senility, suicide, murder, and a whole host of other `taboo' topics without apologies to anyone.
`Bad Santa' is definitely not for the kiddies, and perhaps even some adults will be outraged by the antics contained herein. But for those who like their eggnog with a bit more of a kick to it, this film should certainly do the trick.
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