By William Wolf

BAD SANTA  Send This Review to a Friend

Here's the in-your-face answer to super sweet holiday movies and it's not meant for the kiddies. This Santa, maliciously played by Billy Bob Thornton, is a drunk, a fornicator, a safe-cracker, a slob, a dispenser of non-stop profanity and a man who can't stand children. As if that were not enough to offend, he has a dwarf partner in crime, Marcus (played by Tony Cox), who is equally foul-mouthed. All of this is hilariously funny if it is your brew of humor.

Thornton as Willie T. Stokes sees each Christmas as an opportunity to take a job as a department store Santa, with Marcus as his elf helper, then rob the place. The problem is that he is drunk most of the time, and he insults every child who climbs onto his lap, to the horror of parents. Stokes wets his pants. He knocks over displays. The manager (played by the late John Ritter), who eavesdrops on him giving anal sex to a woman in a dressing room, tries to fire him and his pal, but backs off when Stokes threatens mass picket lines for firing a dwarf.

The bad taste concoction is written by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, with Terry Zwigoff directing. They must have had a great time chuckling at their Santa send-up.

Bernie Mac plays Gin, a department store security guard, who is just as corrupt as those he's supposed to guard against. Lauren Graham plays Sue, a pretty young bartender, who latches onto Willie for sex because as she has always had a thing for Santa.

A lonely, chubby little boy (Brett Kelly), who is always made fun of by his peers, attaches himself to Willie, who upon learning that the boy's father is away and the kid lives alone with his spaced out grandmother (Cloris Leachman), moves into the house. Willie is nasty to the little fellow, who adoringly calls him Santa, keeps asking questions and desperately needs a father figure. At this point we know that the screenplay will have Willie make a connection to the kid in some uplifting way. We've already learned that Willie's excuse for his anti-social behavior is having had a louse for a father.

But the resolution doesn't do much to undercut the nasty comic drive of the film. If you want to see all that's held sacred about the holiday season get a nose-thumbing, this is your film. Maybe nose-thumbing isn't the best description. In this film a more apt one would be a kick where it hurts. A Dimension Film release.


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