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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 36.49%
Just Average: 8.78%
Pretty Crappy: 7.43%
Sucks: 10.14%

9 reviews, 94 user ratings

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Bad Santa
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by Unfashionable Observer

"BAD SANTA is like Bob Clark’s A CHRISTMAS STORY for the post-modern age."
4 stars

Crude, cruel, foul, obnoxious, demented, despicable, repugnant, hateful, nihilistic, and completely immoral. All of these words fairly describe the tone of Terry Zwigoff’s latest movie, "Bad Santa," starring Billy Bob Thornton as the miscreant man in red. But believe it or not, despite being all of those things, Zwigoff’s film is also one of the most heartwarming movies of the year. This utter contrast represents yet another inspired step in Zwigoff’s canon of great films about outsiders looking for a taste of personal salvation.

Willie (Thornton) is a sometimes-suicidal loser whose only passion in life is drinking himself to unconsciousness. He has no job, no family, and no really compelling reason to keep on living. In order to sustain his half-baked existence each year, he teams up with Marcus (Tony Cox)—a midget man who’s slightly more in tune with reality than Willie himself—during the Christmas season to work as a Santa-and-his-elf duo in shopping malls across the country. But of course, they don’t do it out of their sense of Christmas cheer. Willie happens to be adept at cracking safes, and Marcus has a gift for masterminding such operations. By working as the Santa-and-his-elf duo, they are able to rob the malls from the inside: They stake out the store, gain access to the back rooms, and eventually get away with over $100,000 each holiday season. Splitting it up half and half, it’s a good return on their month-long stints as ostensible purveyors of Christmas spirit.

As the title of the movie makes explicit, Willie is indeed a bad Santa. First of all, he’s never sober—on or off the job. But even if he were, we get the sense that his performance as Santa Claus wouldn’t be any different. Secondly, Willie manages to insult each of the kids who are unfortunate enough to land on his lap (which is, by the way, damp with his own urine!). When a quiet, portly kid with a cold gets his turn on Willie’s lap, the demented Santa asks, “What do you want for Christmas? A snot-rag?” Yes it’s mean, but it’s also funny has hell. Especially when you consider Thornton’s nonchalant coolness, coupled with a glint of drunken wackiness. Truly, Thornton has never been more comfortable in a film role, and it shows. Thornton himself has always had a reputation as an offbeat character all his own. This movie exploits that personality trait to the extreme, and it makes for the most offensive, foul-mouthed character to grace the big screen this year. And he is absolutely riotous.

Willie eventually befriends the “snot-rag” boy, perhaps out of a sense of pity, but more likely because the boy’s parents are rich, and nowhere to be found. The kid lives with his grandmother (who is senile) in a palatial house that is completely unattended by anyone but the 10-year-old boy. The fact that the kid is himself mentally unstable—as he seems to think (impossibly so!) that Willie is indeed Santa Claus—only adds to the temptation to take advantage of the situation. Indeed, Willie spends no time contemplating it, and is quickly found driving the kid’s father’s car and sleeping in the master bedroom, all the while humoring the kid in his delusions that Willie is the real Santa Claus.

Too good to be true? Perhaps. But that’s not the point. Willie and the kid end up sharing some genuine moments of friendship. Truly, those moments are rare, as Willie’s sarcastic bite seems to overwhelm all relationships he has with people. But when those rare moments of affection surface, they hit us like a truck, dislodging us from our self-complacency in the movie’s crude, nihilistic humor. The effect is powerful, quick, and at times even overwhelming—all due to the contrast between the acerbic tone of the movie, and those moments of curious vulnerability. Shockingly, such tenderness is reminiscent of that found in great holiday films such as Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). Indeed, Bad Santa is like Bob Clark’s A Christmas Story (1984) for the post-modern age.

In Bad Santa, director Terry Zwigoff continues his streak of smart, disturbing, but ultimately touching movies about social outcasts searching for human connections. His other two movies—1995’s Crumb and 2001’s Ghost World—are nowhere near as overtly caustic as is Bad Santa, but they are nonetheless done in the same vein. In each of these three movies, the characters intrigue us because they are both odd, and bitterly sarcastic. The sarcasm might very well be a defense mechanism triggered by their oddities; however, when these characters finally let their guards down in instances of friendship or affection, they are shown to be vulnerable, emotional beings who are sometimes all too human.

For these small glimmers of naked humanity, we have Zwigoff to thank. We can only hope he graces us with more in the future.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8367&reviewer=352
originally posted: 12/11/03 17:06:57
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell bad indeed it sux donkey dicks 1 stars
2/28/11 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
10/14/09 art WHO NEED"S THIS?,<IT"S REALLY PITIFUL! 1 stars
5/17/09 art BAD IS RIGHT! 2 stars
11/16/08 Samantha Pruitt incredibly raunchy and funny, that Billy Bob does a great job! 4 stars
10/10/08 Annie G Great concept, but poorly executed. Even a Scrooge like me says ‘blah’ 2 stars
3/03/08 ladavies A guilty pleasure. 4 stars
1/31/08 Bonny S. It had a few good laughs, but kinda stupid. 3 stars
10/15/07 fools&#9835;gold Violence is beautiful and real. This is realistic and funny - if only it was more fresh! 3 stars
6/15/07 al smith so crude and funny.billy bob is awesome 5 stars
3/23/07 mb Nothing There 1 stars
12/21/06 MP Bartley When Santa came down the motherfucking comedy he brought a motherfucking good comedy. 4 stars
11/05/06 Chris Bad santa bad movie 1 stars
1/20/06 eTourist Raunchy, Profane, Perverted, Seditious ... and ... Perfect 5 stars
1/07/06 gerry dunne why is there so much violence in american films? 2 stars
9/11/05 Total Crap Hands Down. The funniest movie ever. Wait till your find out the kid's name. 5 stars
8/10/05 ES funny movie, great main character, so many cool scenes 4 stars
6/18/05 Charlie This is the next "Christmas Story"! 5 stars
5/08/05 JFK not to funny, but entertaining.the end sucks 4 stars
4/10/05 gasml laughed the whole movie, brilliant 5 stars
3/24/05 indrid cold Good for several bellylaughs, but really not much to it. 4 stars
3/11/05 Edler It is missing some. The crudest is overdone at time. The kid is great though! 3 stars
12/23/04 Hugh Janus If you missed the point of this masterpeice, its your fuckin loss 5 stars
12/13/04 Taylor Fladgate Bad Santa? Bad idea, bad movie. 1 stars
12/12/04 Landshark Willie is to Santas what Shakes was to clowns...Zwigoff never gets candyassed. 4 stars
12/09/04 Jason Kaul Get past the language and overall crudeness, and this film has a lot of heart. 4 stars
12/04/04 Kristina Williams THIS is an Xmas movie! 5 stars
11/21/04 Melissa Way funnier than I expected. I laughed (and even cryed) at sweet Therman Merman 4 stars
11/10/04 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
8/29/04 Geo78665 Some laughs, but too one-note. Where did all the great reviews come from? 3 stars
8/17/04 Anthony G one of the worst movies I have ever seen, FUCK THIS SHIT. 1 stars
8/07/04 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
7/30/04 Tom with the talent in this movie, I was hoping for much better results 1 stars
7/27/04 Mike Devans hilarious 5 stars
7/07/04 Simon Khalil I'd comment but I'M ON MY FUCKING LUNCH BREAK!! 4 stars
6/10/04 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
4/03/04 da hood i liked it! good halloween movie! 5 stars
3/25/04 LIAM JACKSON santa fucking a woman in the ass? right.... 4 stars
1/23/04 bender funny as hell. 4 stars
1/21/04 John B. Worst movie I've ever seen 1 stars
1/15/04 Ralph R. Clemente Liked it a lot - funny in a sick kind of way 4 stars
1/14/04 Jack Bourbon Funny goddam fuckin shit. 4 stars
1/09/04 Tommy Funniest movie since Caddyshack; One for the Ages 5 stars
1/08/04 Vince Krey sucks the big one. 1 stars
1/05/04 jim march best christmas movie of all time 5 stars
1/03/04 b denton Steps close to saccharine, but never goes over the edge. 5 stars
1/02/04 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
12/30/03 Angolmois If you like Coen Brothers movies, you'll like this one.Never though I'd laugh at crotchkick 4 stars
12/28/03 Haney Fuckin Hilarious 5 stars
12/25/03 Richard Finally a movie that sees this Christmas shit the way I do 5 stars
12/24/03 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
12/22/03 SC It was the sickest, most twisted, perverse, irreverent and utterly appalling movie I had se 5 stars
12/22/03 Steven wolff best xmas movie ever 5 stars
12/21/03 Ivan Amaro Very creative, you get a surprise after a surprise, the soundtrack picks are extraordinary 5 stars
12/21/03 ger Bad Santa is one of the 10 worse movies I have seen 1 stars
12/11/03 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
12/10/03 Tom F Great movie! Laughed so hard I cried! 5 stars
12/10/03 astrotart Finally a movie that's just as crass as I am! 4 stars
12/09/03 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
12/04/03 Smitty in Evanston The funniest film of the year... 5 stars
12/04/03 Igor Laughed my ass off. I haven't seen a movie this funny in a very long time. 5 stars
12/02/03 Obi Wan Unexpectly very funny . . .didn't know Billy Boy had it in him! LOL I'M ON MY BREAK!!!!!! 5 stars
12/02/03 Agent Sands This is a surprisingly brilliant, hilarious movie. Everything's done well. 5 stars
12/02/03 aseelye Funniest movie I've seen in a long time 5 stars
12/01/03 kawaii50 I laughed but I found myself wondering why in the @#$% I was watching this mess 2 stars
12/01/03 HangMikeMyersforFuckinguptheCat THIS MOVIE WAS FUCKING AWESOME.HILARIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/01/03 JackedSanta Funny 5 stars
11/30/03 NoRefill 4 or 5 pretty funny scenes, but the rest just falls apart. Had potential, but fails. 2 stars
11/29/03 cpbjr Laughed my ass off, but was very poignent at the same time. Good flick. 4 stars
11/29/03 Morally Sound Ho-ho-hollarious from start to finish! Black comedy at its best! 5 stars
11/29/03 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
11/27/03 Scott Imhoff Bad Santa is a mean-hearted story about the abuse of an overweight child. 1 stars
11/27/03 Curious George Pretty good. 4 stars
11/27/03 TP Bad film, Butt fucking bad! 1 stars
11/27/03 nick2k this movie was quite coen-esque. really funny! 5 stars
11/24/03 HangMikeMyersforFuckinguptheCat Saw it last night in a screening. very funny, and good to see ritter again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
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  26-Nov-2003 (R)
  DVD: 10-Oct-2006



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