Bad Santa (2003)
Santa's Been a Bad Boy
It's not just the swearing. Forgive me for prying, but did one of you, um, fornicate... - Bob Chipeska
"Bad Santa" is a Christmas movie for those people who generally hate Christmas movies, who hate their sweet, sentimental nature and nice guy Santa's making little kids wishes come true. It has dark humour, action, swearing, in fact lots of swearing, sarcasm and one mean, drunk Santa but yet rather perversely it still has a kind of wholesome message which reveals itself without ever having to resort to the tried and tested sweet and sentimental stuff. As such "Bad Santa" is a movie which I know will have its fans but also its haters because it is extreme and pretty much the opposite of everything you expect from a Christmas movie.
Willie (Billy Bob Thornton - Love Actually) and Marcus (Tony Cox - Me, Myself & Irene) have been working together for years, where every Christmas they get a gig as Santa and his little helper in a department store then on Christmas Eve rob the place. But as the years have passed Willie's drinking and bad behaviour has gotten out of control as he insults the children, is abusive to managers and shags women in the changing rooms. But something this year changes him when he meets a fat kid (Brett Kelly) with no friends and a simple belief in Santa being his friend.
If you're only use to sweet Christmas movies "Bad Santa" will shock you and it does so with a purpose as I don't think there is a single scene which doesn't contain at least 10 swear words. It's not just the excessive swearing which is likely to shock as we also have a drunk, abusive con artist masquerading as Santa who in one scene shags a barmaid in his car. I could go on because I have barely scratched the surface of what is intentionally shocking.
The thing is that whilst "Bad Santa" is shocking it also has a story about Willie whose life has become so bad that it really is just a matter of time before he either kills himself or screws up so much that someone else does it for him. As such we may have the amusement of Willie and Marcus working as these Christmas criminals the focus is on Willie and his relationship with the kid as he discovers the simple belief the Kid has in him. We watch as he starts out by using the kid but slowly realises how much the Kid likes him and as such starts feeling bad for some of the bad things he does.
And this is where "Bad Santa" is actually quite clever because it is everything a Christmas movie shouldn't be, it is mean, nasty, violent and full of swearing yet without becoming sentimental it still manages to conjure up a feel good ending of sorts. You may hate the excessive swearing or the sex scenes or the portrayal of a department store Santa as a pant pissing drunk but the fact behind all this dark humour it still gets across a feel good message which borders on the genius. It is simply a Christmas movie for those who hate cutesy Christmas movies.
And at the centre of this truly perverse Christmas movie is Billy Bob Thornton who not only delivers a drunk, he delivers a repulsive, mean, abusive drunk Santa with a thing for arses. It is such a full on performance that perversely even when we watch Willie at his nastiest there is actually something loveable about him. And likeable is very much how you would describe the performance from Lauren Graham who shall we say shows her sexy playful side.
What this all boils down to is that "Bad Santa" is a movie which I know will divide audiences because of it being so dark and obnoxious. Yet beneath all the drinking, swearing and general bad behaviour it is also surprisingly clever as it manages to deliver a kind of heart warming ending with out resorting to being too sentimental which makes it the perfect Christmas movie for those who dislike your normal sort of Christmas movie.
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