Bad Santa

Film, Comedy
Bad Santa
Photograph: Columbia Pictures

Time Out says

Willie T Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) is a shopping-mall Santa with a difference: a cynical, safe-cracking alcoholic with a penchant for sex with hefty women and a wholly unconcealed dislike of kids. Indeed, he only does the job as a cover for the felonies he perpetrates with Marcus (Tony Cox), his criminal-mastermind elf. But then Willie has two not-quite-life-changing encounters: one with self-confessed Santa-groupie Sue (Lauren Graham); the other with parentless eight-year-old Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly), whose innocence verges on idiocy and who happens to live in a mansion that’d make a great home for Willie. 

Admittedly, this black comedy – from an idea by the Coens and directed by the esteemed creator of ‘Crumb’ and ‘Ghost World’ – is pretty much a one-joke film; true, too, that at the very end it sweetens much of what’s gone before with a spoonful of sentimentality. But it is, for the most part, quite hilarious in its foul-mouthed malice and disenchantment with all things wholesome and familial; few films have been as funny about greed, lust, incontinence, midgets or kicks to the balls. The secret is that Terry Zwigoff, Thornton et al play it straight (though a few scenes featuring the store manager and a mall detective are far less funny – reputedly they were added by another director after Zwigoff refused to pad the film out to the more conventional running time requested by Miramax). Wonderfully tasteless, gloriously non-PC, admirably bilious; humourless souls should steer clear.

By: GA


Release details

Release date:
Friday November 5 2004
93 mins

Cast and crew

Terry Zwigoff
Glenn Ficarra, John Requia
Billy Bob Thornton
Tony Cox
Lauren Graham
Brett Kelly
Lauren Tom
Ajay Naidu
Alex Borstein
John Ritter
Bernie Mac
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