Bad Santa (2003)

This Santa's interested in a different kind of Ho, Ho, Ho

Willie Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton), A miserable conman, and his partner, Marcus (Tony Cox), pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid, and the security boss discovers the plot.

Produced by the Coen Brothers, who also did an unofficial rewrite on the script, Bad Santa is a Christmas film which doesn't feel like a Christmas film, but rather the season is more of a backdrop for the two leads and their con game.

Billie Bob Thornton is utterly perfect for the leading role of Willie Stokes, the eponymous "Bad Santa". He perfectly plays the embittered and blunt mall Santa, giving us a pretty unconvential, yet quite iconic Christmas character. Tony Cox does just as good as Marcus, partner to the "Bad Santa", as they work very well off each other, impressing as a duo. Thurman is quite funny in his innocence, as he constantly refers to Willie as Santa, and in how inquisitive he is, by constantly asking Willie questions.

The dialogue is pretty terrific, as it's laced head to toe in profanity, and the film is filled with many moments sure to send the politically correct into a tizzy, but the film never manages to feel like it's trying too hard to be profane and crude, which is more than I can say for the Transformers films. If i'm perfectly honest, it actually feels natural for the film to be like this, and it would feel very strange and rather out of place if the film wasn't filled as much with swear words and offensively crude moments. This film should be commended for utilizing nut shots in a funny way, rather than the tired, lame and lazy joke that it is known for in this day and age.

"Where the fuck are your eyebrows, kid?"

The character development never feels heavy handed, but manages to flow quite well actually. Also, the progression of Willie and Thurman's friendship is one that is handled well, and progresses in such a way that it feels natural and not tacked on in the slightest way.

There was a random bit where a random guy from the bar starts harassing Willie, leading Thurman, the kid, to stop the man from beating on Willie, and while not feeling out of place, it left me in a state of wondering what had just happened. Despite Bernie Mac's best attempts, he doesn't manage to make you laugh, or even grin, and feels pretty wasted here. Also, we never see the relationship between Willie and Sue, the woman with a Santa fetish, actually grow, so when we see them together in scenes outside of sexual activities, it feels a bit off.

Bad Santa is often hilarious in it's profanity laced dialogue and darkly comedic moments, whilst offering great development from the lead, but it doesn't always hit the mark. Nevertheless, it remains the unconvential film that's worth viewing every Christmas.


Tom_Film_Master said…
I gave it the same rating and I think it's great as a comedy. Thornton is excellent in it. Great review!
Jeff SC said…
I've only seen it once. I thought it was okay, but nothing too special. Loved Thornton in it, but like you said, Bernie Mac was pretty forgettable. Iunno, I guess it just didn't leave much of an impression on me.
Anonymous said…
It's a mean-spirited film that is darkly humorous and well-acted by the cast, especially Billy Bob who is just such an asshole that it's almost too hard to take in sometimes. Good review.
James Rodrigues said…
@Tom_Film_Master Thornton is terrific in it

@Jeff SC It didn't leave as much an impression upon me as I wanted it to

@dtmmr Thank you