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Bad Santa (2003)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
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6.7
 / 10
7 votes
Genres / Traits:
Black Comedy, Comedy, Crime Comedy, Holiday: Christmas
Director:
Terry Zwigoff Terry Zwigoff
Starring:
Billy Bob Thornton Billy Bob Thornton
Tony Cox Tony Cox
Brett Kelly Brett Kelly
Lauren Graham Lauren Graham
Lauren Tom Lauren Tom
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Review by 385
Added: December 20, 2011
I take constant shit for this, but I'm not really a fan of Christmas. It's more a headache than anything else, so it's no surprise that a movie like this would be a consistent part of my holiday experience.

Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) and Marcus (Tony Cox) have a pretty good racket going on. For the past twelve years, Willie has gotten a job as a mall Santa, with Marcus as his elf sidekick, and spent the season casing the joint before robbing it blind. A hundred thousand dollars isn't bad for a night's work; still, Marcus is getting increasingly fed up with Willie's bullshit. You see, Willie redefines misanthropic; he spends every waking moment completely shitfaced, and spends his off-time sodomizing heavy women in dressing rooms, humping barely-legals in the arcade and hooking up with a bartender who just so happens to have a Santa fetish (Lauren Graham). On the job, he's just as much a fuck-up, telling kids to "get the fuck off of his lap" and that Mrs. Claus is upset with him for sleeping with her sister. Needless to say, the owner of this mall (John Ritter) is none too happy with all of this, and sends the head of security (Bernie Mac) on a mission to find some dirt to get him fired. Obviously needing to lay low, Willie moves in with one of the weirdest kids he's ever met (Brett Kelly). It's not the ideal situation for him, but before the season is over, it's one that might give him a whole new lease on life.

OK, let's just be frank here. Bad Santa fucking sucks. The plot doesn't really go anywhere, the characters are all unbelievable caricatures, and the entire affair is really just an excuse for Billy Bob Thorton to insult some dysfunctional kids and say a bunch of outrageous shit. But that's the beauty of it! Truth be told, I've only seen this movie once while sober, and that was wrong. The film panders to the lowest common denominator without an ounce of shame, and that's the best way to enjoy it: shamelessly. Get plastered with your buddies and laugh your ass off at the simple joys of watching a midget getting kicked in the coin sack. And that's not even touching the quotability this offers, and it's not just Thorton's character. Pretty much everyone has at least a few golden lines. It's like the Monty Python and the Holy Grail for drunk dumbasses who say "fuck" too much.

As you might expect, the acting doesn't get much better than average, but then it doesn't really have to. Billy Bob Thorton stumbles through his entire role in a drunken stupor, mumbling his profanities in an apathetic monotone, and Brett Kelly brings awkward to a previously unheard of level, frequently alluding to a childhood that redefines dysfunctional. In smaller roles are Cloris Leachman as the borderline catatonic grandma and Lauren Graham, whose biggest contribution is the mid-coitus chanting of "fuck me, Santa!" Despite what you're thinking, none of those observations are actually complaints. Again, it's a movie about a collection of rejects; they have no reason to be firing on all cylinders in the first place. The only true disappointment is Tony Cox. Cox wasn't bad per se, but I was never truly convinced by the anger he was trying to convey. Of course, it's one of the only roles in the movie that requires actual acting, so take that as you well. On the other side of the coin, Bernie Mac absolutely shines, but that should come as no surprise to anyone. And, by the way, there's something seriously unnerving about watching him have a conversation with John Ritter.

Speaking perfectly objectively, the movie gets maybe a generous five on its own, but I feel compelled to throw it some bonus points thanks to the years of fun this ninety minute piece of shit has given me. 7/10.
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AttnDefDis #1: AttnDefDis - added 12/21/2011, 05:21 PM
I've seen this movie several times and I was always sober. I think it's hilarious and everyone in it does a great job. It's one of the few comedies in this genre that I actually find laugh out loud funny. Even after many viewings. John Ritter is probably my favorite and I always miss him a little after watching this.
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