Bad Santa
By Charlie Goodrich Thursday, 4 Dec 2008

Bad Santa has risen to the top of my Christmas movie list. Surprisingly, it did this by inducing a large amount of pain to my sides as I roared in laughter from start to finish. This isn’t your typical Christmas flick for two reasons. First, it is beyond vulgar. The script is intended for mature audiences, and a child could easily be tainted and pushed towards the boundaries of sanity after watching Santa vomit, drink, swear, fuck, steal, and womanize. Second, the movie doesn’t take place exclusively during December. Bad Santa chronicles a year in the life of a mall Santa played by Billy Bob Thornton, but the bulk of the film takes place around Christmas time. That being said, I thought I would get in the Christmas spirit by reviewing this festive movie.

The plot of Bad Santa revolves around Willie (Thornton) and Marcus’ (Tony Cox)

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choice of careers. Every Christmas they work as a mall Santa (Willie) and elf (Marcus). It’s a decent front for two crooks. On Christmas Eve, they break into the mall and loot the mall safe. This keeps them sustained for a year before they relocate and do it all over again. This already seems like a lot to divulge so I won’t go into greater detail about their “job”. On their latest assignment, Willie meets a kid who believes him to be the real Santa and invites him to stay at his house. Willie, being a parasite, agrees and takes full advantage of this kid and his grandma while waiting for Christmas Eve. The plot thickens when the mall security guard (Bernie Mac) figures out what Willie and Marcus plan to do and tries to stop them. There are a few slow spots in the beginning of the movie where the plot drags and a few in the middle, but the story ties together very well and has a good pacing.

Like I said above, the script in Bad Santa is top notch. It may be the most vulgar, cuss-filled, crass, insulting, and ridiculous piece of film writing I know of… wait, the Postal movie exceeds Bad Santa in these categories, however, Bad Santa is done well and makes for a decent black comedy. The way obscenities are strung together and character’s reactions to Willie’s or Marcus’ dialog is priceless. You’ll be left laughing while your brain tries to fathom what just happened. Luckily, Bad Santa features a great cast to bring this script to life. The entire cast delivers spot on performances. Thornton embraces the role of a vile Santa; Cox excels as the elf, John Ritter (this being his last body of work) plays the part of a timid mall manager perfectly, and Bernie Mac seems like a real life mall security guard.

I don’t think Bad Santa is for everyone. There are some people who will deem it rude because it doesn’t fit into the traditional Christmas movie genre. Others will embrace it for the opposite reason, enjoying it because it breaks from the mold. And I’m sure there will be people who find some middle ground. I was very surprised when I first watched Bad Santa. I didn’t know I would like it as much as I do. Since it is the season for all things festive, go out and enjoy classic Christmas films that have filled your heart with joy since your days as a child. But after you are done watching them give Bad Santa a try.

One Response to “Bad Santa”

  1. Andrew Raub Says:

    Bad Santa is among many other films where I initially pass it off as being utterly stupid without seeing it, and then years later end up watching it and realizing it’s god damn hilarious and I was an idiot.

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