So, we took a trip back to a nostalgic age yesterday with the excellent A Christmas Story, but today we look at a different aspect of the festive tradition.
And today it’s…
3rd December, Day 34
Bad Santa (Terry Zwigoff, 2003)
Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) is a terrible human being. He swears, drinks, and is constantly on the lookout for some casual sex. Oh, and he hates kids. So why does he choose to be a mall Santa?
Every year, Willie and Marcus (Tony Cox) go to a new set of stores to work as a Father Christmas and Elf to find the best way to rob it. They spend the weeks before Christmas casing the joint for its security features, rob it on Christmas Eve, with the help of Marcus’s wife Lois (Lauren Tom of Futurama). This year though Willie is behaving worse than ever, and his antics bring them to the attention of the mall manager Bob (John Ritter) and the security chief Gin Slagel (Bernie Mac).
Also, despite Willie’s feelings towards children, and giving him absolutely no encouragement, Thurman (Brett Kelly) starts hanging around and invites him to his home, believing him to be the real Father Christmas. When Willie sees that Thurman basically lives alone, he moves in to the house with his new girlfriend Sue (Lauren Graham). Can Marcus keep Willie on the straight and narrow long enough to pull off another job? Will Slagel stop them in their tracks? And surely, surely Willie doesn’t actually care about Thurman?
I have watched so many Christmas films that this was a great change of pace. There are plenty of films that have a similar redemption story, but Bad Santa really commits to the idea. Billy Bob Thornton gives it everything – sleazy doesn’t do him credit. Swearing at children, depraved sex acts, stealing, Willie really does it all. This is a film that has to be seen to be believed just how horrible this bad santa gets.
There are some very enjoyable supporting turns here as well. Tony Cox is great as the straight man to Thornton, and Ritter and Mac have a really good chemistry as the manager and security chief. This makes this a surpriingly well rounded film, rather than solely a vehicle for Thornton. There’s also some of the best use of classical music you will see, and not the usual “violent acts set to some violin strings” cliche either.
The film is deliberately bad taste, but in the best possible way. Predictable, but enjoyable enough.
Overall I give this:
This a a decent film, Billy Bob Thornton’s perfromance is brilliantly depraved and it doesn’t take the usual journey of redemption. Lots of fun, but not one for the family! It’s like the mirror image of Miracle On 34th Street.
Tomorrow we go back to the Eighties when we catch up with the Griswolds on their CHRISTMAS VACATION!
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
PS Here’s my list so far
31st October, Day 1: The Nightmare Before Christmas
1st November, Day 2: Rocky IV
2nd November, Day 3: Edward Scissorhands
3rd November, Day 4: Trading Places
4th November, Day 5: Batman Returns
5th November, Day 6: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
6th November, Day 7: Gremlins
7th November, Day 8: Eyes Wide Shut
8th November, Day 9: Love Actually
9th November, Day 10: Lethal Weapon
10th November, Day 11: Die Hard / Die Hard 2
11th November, Day 12: About A Boy
12th November, Day 13: Trapped In Paradise
13th November, Day 14: Reindeer Games
14th November, Day 15: Joyeux Noel
15th November, Day 16: Nativity / Nativity 2 / Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?
16th November, Day 17: Jack Frost
17th November, Day 18: Jack Frost
18th November, Day 19: Arthur Christmas
19th November, Day 20: The Santa Clause / The Santa Clause 2 / The Santa Clause 3
20th November, Day 21: Miracle On 34th Street
21st November, Day 22: Miracle On 34th Street
22nd November, Day 23: Scrooged
23rd November, Day 24: Scrooge
24th November, Day 25: The Muppets Christmas Carol
25th November, Day 26: Elf
26th November, Day 27: Home Alone / Home Alone 2
27th November, Day 28: The Grinch
28th November, Day 29: Black Christmas
29th November, Day 30: Jingle All The Way
30th November, Day 31: Rare Exports
1st December, Day 32: Polar Express
2nd December, Day 33: A Christmas Story
3rd December, Day 34: Bad Santa