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Overall Rating
3.85

Awesome37.41%
Worth A Look: 36.73%
Average: 8.84%
Pretty Bad: 7.48%
Total Crap: 9.52%

9 reviews, 93 user ratings


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Bad Santa
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by Erik Childress

"More Naughty Than Funny"
2 stars

Bad Santa heads into its final credits with a moment of triumph as a young, pudgy outsider kicks a bully in the balls and the theme to Carmen plays. We’re instantly reminded of another group of outsiders, reluctantly taken responsibility for by a boozing, foul-mouthed lout of a human being. There was something subversive about Walter Matthau coaching this little league team back in 1976. Billy Bob Thornton tries to pull off the same trick in a Santa suit, while upping the profanity quotient, but fails miserably because his character is so woefully underwritten that his shtick becomes frustratingly tiresome after about 20 minutes. Or to hear him put it, “Shut the fuck up, you fucking retard.”

Rarely am I compelled to use such language in a review, but its such an integral part of the film that it seems disingenuous not to fucking mention it. Surely there are films with a higher quotient of vulgarity, but Bad Santa uses it in such a fucking way to be noticeable at every goddamned moment. Fuckin’ Disney execs have even come out and saying how “shocked” they are at this film distributed under their fuck-all Dimension banner. Sure, after they read the script, greenlit it and saw dailies for over a year. Please. Go shit in someone else’s lawn because this one is already fertilized.

Thornton’s character, Willie T. Soke, is a fucking souss-and-a-pint. To label him an alcoholic would be a compliment. For 30 days in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Willie and his fuckin' dwarf associate, Marcus (Tony Cox) get hired by a department store, pose as their Santa and his elf and then rob the place blind. Going on their seventh year together, its less a wonder how they haven’t been caught but how the continually disshelved and Christmas-spirit-lacking Willie gets fuckin’ hired in the first place or even manages to keep the job for the full stretch without getting complaints from parents for berating their kids, trashing the joint or pissing himself in full view.

The latest mall manager (John Ritter) thinks he may have slipped up when Willie immediately mistakes questions of “performance” with his “fuckstick”. Of course, firing a goddamned black midget at fucking Christmas time may not sit well, so he asks his head of security (Bernie Mac) to check the newbies out. Once again, things that could have been brought to his attention YESTERDAY!

Willie miraculously lucks out though in finding a wide-eyed, snot-infested, wedgie-prone pudgy kid (Brett Kelly). Not that he feels lucky to spend time with any kid, but this one lives all alone with a clueless grandma while dad is out “climbing mountains” thanks to a little embezzling. It’s already implied, GODDAMMIT, that this kid who calls Willie “Santa” will somehow teach this Grinch the spirit of Christmas and a better movie would have capitalized on turning that gushy Christmasy feeling into a unmitigated, dissident satire. But it’s all just F-bombs and uncomfortable exchanges posing as dark humor that even the most cynical of small hearts will find themselves wincing at. So go fuck yourself.

It’s repeatedly dropped that Willie had a less-than-stellar childhood, so his hard-drinking bitterness has a cushion on which to rest blame. But either tap into that darkness or create a convincing arc that an audience can adapt to. Willie is an unlikable fuck. And few things make me laugh harder than someone preaching hard truths to the innocent. Telling one kid who sneezes chocolate ice cream onto him to get the fuck away is funny. Calling the tenth kid a retard ceases to share the same humor. One moment, Willie is berating the oblivious kid, the next he feels a little sorry for his actions. Then he lashes out at him even further and then is surprised (and angered) when the kid refers to himself as a “dipshit loser.” The screenplay (by Cats & Dogs scribes John Requa & Glenn Ficara) is almost as out of whack as Thornton’s facial hair which appears and disappears with the frequency of his character’s outbursts.

Maybe it’s all in the casting. Bill Murray was originally cast as Willie and to see Murray on screen is to laugh just at his presence. Perhaps it would have softened the fuckin’ vulgarity and elevated the Willie character to the level of director Terry Zwigoff’s last heroine, Enid, in Ghost World (one of 2001’s best films). She too was an outsider, looking at the world with a cynical bitterness in her eyes and we applauded when she called out people for what they were. Thornton’s Willie is just a mean bastard whom we can’t sympathize with and only laugh with about 25% of the time.

Bad Santa isn’t without its share of big laughs, many of which provided by Tony Cox who has played everything from an Ewok to the limo driver who went head-to-foot against Jim Carrey in Me, Myself and Irene. His character is the most well-rounded as the brains and the voice of the operation with a wife (Lauren Tom) who makes her way through each store compiling her Christmas list. It’s Cox’s matter-of-fact exchanges with both Thornton and Bernie Mac that gets the film its best moments. The late, great John Ritter is in the movie for about eight minutes (completely disappearing late) but gets in some priceless reaction shots for a worthy swan song to remind us what a great comedian he was.

Bad Santa walks a very thin tightrope between outright unpleasantness and the blackest of humor. For a movie containing vomit, nauseating eating scenes, anal sex, a rather gruesome murder, betrayal and cops plunging eight bullets into an unarmed victim, it’s something of a Christmas miracle that there are any laughs at all. But there are and for some that may be enough. And for those who always wanted to see Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham of TV’s great Gilmore Girls) play an inconsequential slut with a Santa fetish (“fuck me Santa, fuck me Santa”, etc…) then Bad Santa is the movie for you. If you think A Christmas Story took the kid-hating department store Santa too far, then it would be best to skip this. At least, that’s one reason cross off on the naughty list.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8367&reviewer=198
originally posted: 11/26/03 17:04:39
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User Comments

12/20/14 PAUL SHORTT AUDACIOUS, FUNNY SATIRE 3 stars
3/01/11 Captain Slog Best Xmas movie ever made 5 stars
12/13/10 MP Bartley When Santa came down the motherfucking chimney, he brought this motherfucking great film. 5 stars
10/18/09 Chad Dillon Cooper A new Christmas classic. I ho ho hoed my A$$ off 4 stars
10/15/09 art WHO NEED"S THIS?,<IT"S REALLY PITIFUL! 1 stars
5/18/09 art BAD IS RIGHT! 2 stars
11/17/08 Samantha Pruitt incredibly raunchy and funny, that Billy Bob does a great job! 4 stars
10/11/08 Annie G Great concept, but poorly executed. Even a Scrooge like me says ‘blah’ 2 stars
5/02/08 art A BRUTAL AND MEAN SPIRTED YET A FUNNY AND< TOUCHING FILM 5 stars
3/03/08 ladavies A guilty pleasure. 4 stars
2/01/08 Bonny S. It had a few good laughs, but kinda stupid. 3 stars
10/16/07 fools&#9835;gold Violence is beautiful and real. This is realistic and funny - if only it was more fresh! 3 stars
6/16/07 al smith so crude and funny.billy bob is awesome 5 stars
3/24/07 mb Nothing There 1 stars
12/22/06 MP Bartley When Santa came down the motherfucking comedy he brought a motherfucking good comedy. 4 stars
11/06/06 Chris Bad santa bad movie 1 stars
1/21/06 eTourist Raunchy, Profane, Perverted, Seditious ... and ... Perfect 5 stars
1/08/06 gerry dunne why is there so much violence in american films? 2 stars
9/12/05 Total Crap Hands Down. The funniest movie ever. Wait till your find out the kid's name. 5 stars
8/11/05 ES funny movie, great main character, so many cool scenes 4 stars
6/18/05 Charlie This is the next "Christmas Story"! 5 stars
5/09/05 JFK not to funny, but entertaining.the end sucks 4 stars
4/11/05 gasml laughed the whole movie, brilliant 5 stars
3/25/05 indrid cold Good for several bellylaughs, but really not much to it. 4 stars
3/12/05 Edler It is missing some. The crudest is overdone at time. The kid is great though! 3 stars
12/24/04 Hugh Janus If you missed the point of this masterpeice, its your fuckin loss 5 stars
12/14/04 Taylor Fladgate Bad Santa? Bad idea, bad movie. 1 stars
12/13/04 Landshark Willie is to Santas what Shakes was to clowns...Zwigoff never gets candyassed. 4 stars
12/10/04 Jason Kaul Get past the language and overall crudeness, and this film has a lot of heart. 4 stars
12/05/04 Kristina Williams THIS is an Xmas movie! 5 stars
11/22/04 Melissa Way funnier than I expected. I laughed (and even cryed) at sweet Therman Merman 4 stars
11/11/04 David Johnson A great black comedy, ... for anyone needing their fix of "BAH HUMBUG"!!! 4 stars
10/30/04 Sherman McMerman FUNNIEST MOVIE IVE EVER SEEN I love the part when throws da clock and yells FUCK U 3 times 5 stars
8/30/04 Geo78665 Some laughs, but too one-note. Where did all the great reviews come from? 3 stars
8/18/04 Anthony G one of the worst movies I have ever seen, FUCK THIS SHIT. 1 stars
8/08/04 DH 4th grade attempt at satire--so lame! 1 stars
8/05/04 Chris it made me laugh, and it was an okay movie. not the greatest ive seen though. 3 stars
8/04/04 ownerofdajoint THIS MOVIE IS A FUCKING HOOT!!GO FUCKING GET IT ! 4 stars
7/31/04 Tom with the talent in this movie, I was hoping for much better results 1 stars
7/28/04 Mike Devans hilarious 5 stars
7/08/04 Simon Khalil I'd comment but I'M ON MY FUCKING LUNCH BREAK!! 4 stars
6/11/04 T. Maj Holiday-temed black comedy--great genre! 4 stars
6/08/04 Jon Hillarious 5 stars
5/11/04 Z F Funny as hell, +best little-person role since Year of Living Dangerously 5 stars
4/04/04 da hood i liked it! good halloween movie! 5 stars
3/26/04 LIAM JACKSON santa fucking a woman in the ass? right.... 4 stars
1/24/04 bender funny as hell. 4 stars
1/21/04 John B. Worst movie I've ever seen 1 stars
1/16/04 Ralph R. Clemente Liked it a lot - funny in a sick kind of way 4 stars
1/15/04 Jack Bourbon Funny goddam fuckin shit. 4 stars
1/10/04 Tommy Funniest movie since Caddyshack; One for the Ages 5 stars
1/09/04 Vince Krey sucks the big one. 1 stars
1/06/04 jim march best christmas movie of all time 5 stars
1/04/04 b denton Steps close to saccharine, but never goes over the edge. 5 stars
1/03/04 A F Although raunchy, you need to be at least 50 to enjoy this film. 3 stars
12/31/03 Mike I can not believe that parents really let their children participate in this move 1 stars
12/31/03 Nee Nee This should have been rated X instead of R 1 stars
12/31/03 Me. >:) My god, Max Van Ville is FINE! 5 stars
12/31/03 Angolmois If you like Coen Brothers movies, you'll like this one.Never though I'd laugh at crotchkick 4 stars
12/29/03 Haney Fuckin Hilarious 5 stars
12/26/03 Richard Finally a movie that sees this Christmas shit the way I do 5 stars
12/25/03 Greg Wheat funny as hell 5 stars
12/23/03 Jed Just amazing! Funny but hits an emotional chord. 5 stars
12/23/03 Marcia Lartz Entertaining in spite of itself. A guilty almost pleasure. 4 stars
12/23/03 SC It was the sickest, most twisted, perverse, irreverent and utterly appalling movie I had se 5 stars
12/23/03 Steven wolff best xmas movie ever 5 stars
12/22/03 Ivan Amaro Very creative, you get a surprise after a surprise, the soundtrack picks are extraordinary 5 stars
12/22/03 ger Bad Santa is one of the 10 worse movies I have seen 1 stars
12/12/03 ROY L. CAIN,JR. I haven't seen a Santa this BAD since Bill Murray on "SNL" in 1977. R.I.P. John Ritter. 5 stars
12/11/03 john great, hilarious, delightful 5 stars
12/11/03 Tom F Great movie! Laughed so hard I cried! 5 stars
12/11/03 astrotart Finally a movie that's just as crass as I am! 4 stars
12/10/03 re funny 5 stars
12/08/03 Still N. Stitches Funniest "got damned" movie I've seen in a long while! Riotously hilarious! 5 stars
12/05/03 Smitty in Evanston The funniest film of the year... 5 stars
12/05/03 Igor Laughed my ass off. I haven't seen a movie this funny in a very long time. 5 stars
12/03/03 Obi Wan Unexpectly very funny . . .didn't know Billy Boy had it in him! LOL I'M ON MY BREAK!!!!!! 5 stars
12/03/03 Agent Sands This is a surprisingly brilliant, hilarious movie. Everything's done well. 5 stars
12/03/03 aseelye Funniest movie I've seen in a long time 5 stars
12/02/03 kawaii50 I laughed but I found myself wondering why in the @#$% I was watching this mess 2 stars
12/02/03 HangMikeMyersforFuckinguptheCat THIS MOVIE WAS FUCKING AWESOME.HILARIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/01/03 JackedSanta Funny 5 stars
12/01/03 NoRefill 4 or 5 pretty funny scenes, but the rest just falls apart. Had potential, but fails. 2 stars
11/30/03 cpbjr Laughed my ass off, but was very poignent at the same time. Good flick. 4 stars
11/30/03 Morally Sound Ho-ho-hollarious from start to finish! Black comedy at its best! 5 stars
11/30/03 jimmy d this movie is a very touching family movie. only rated R for 1 f word. rest is touching!!! 5 stars
11/28/03 ajay this movie is full of those moments where you think, "man, it's so wrong, but so funny" 4 stars
11/28/03 Michael Medved Fun for the whole family!! Bring the kids! 5 stars
11/28/03 Scott Imhoff Bad Santa is a mean-hearted story about the abuse of an overweight child. 1 stars
11/28/03 Curious George Pretty good. 4 stars
11/28/03 TP Bad film, Butt fucking bad! 1 stars
11/27/03 nick2k this movie was quite coen-esque. really funny! 5 stars
11/25/03 HangMikeMyersforFuckinguptheCat Saw it last night in a screening. very funny, and good to see ritter again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  26-Nov-2003 (R)
  DVD: 10-Oct-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  25-Nov-2004




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