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BAD SANTA   Print  E-mail 
Written by Graham Reed  
Thursday, 11 November 2004
He doesn’t care if you are naughty or nice. All he cares about is his next beer.


Every christmas brings another Christmas movie - and they’re usually about Santa. The Cuddly man with the long hair and the white beard, who pops down your chimney every year and brings you presents.

He’s not real you know.

And I can prove it, because  this year, Santa is a bastard. And a drunken bastard at that.

Remember when you were young and you went to sit on Santa’s knee and told him what you wanted for Christmas? It was a LIE. A LIE. Your parents lied to you, because Santa Claus isn’t real, but he was born in 1935 when Coca Cola stuck him on the side of trucks, and originally he was from germany, and had a green suit. Green! But anyway, its all a lie.

That’s why when you take kids to sit on Santa Claus’s knee, its just a bloke dressed up as Santa. Maybe a bloke who deep down inside, isn’t a good person. Maybe he’s a habitual and hopeless drunk, a misanthropic sexual compulsive, who hates people,hates kid, hates himself. A Bad Santa.

Like Willi T, whose played by Billy Bob Thornton to perfection in Bad Santa. Filled and fuelled by self-loathing and bad debts, a preponderance for oversize women, and a hatred of everything and everyone, he has not so much lost the will to live as even lost the will to die.

Especially the two months a year where he has to be the Santa, dealing with hyperactive hyper-annoying  kids sitting on his knees asking for toys every 35 seconds for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Good job then, that he spends the rest of the year getting pissed on the beach, and has a talent for safe-cracking. Upon which he and his dwarf companion Marcus, the even more obnoxious and offensive, (played impeccably by Tony Cox) run off with the proceeds of the safe and go on the run for another year. And they do this every year. Play Santa and Elf, work inside the mall, rip off the safe, and run away. It’s a living.

And it’s all going swimmingly well - in amongst the getting drunk, having random sex with women who are Santa fetishists, being obnoxious - until one day Willie finds himself in a pickle. With no one to turn too and his rented apartment being done over, he is befriended by an 8 year old kid whose dad is in jail.

Then the Bad Santa moves in there. And as it moves more inexorably towards Christmas,  he finds himself warming to the kid with a heart of gold…and the inevitable scam he’s gonna have to pull off.

Anarchic, dark, misanthropic, offensive and anti-social, Bad Santa is a warm ray of dark sunshine in a genre overfilled with anondyne, sappy, soft and fluffy Christmas movies. It’s filled and fuelled with black as hell humour, very non-PC, and will be deeply offensive to pretty much everyone. There’s no good characters except the kid, everyone else is selfish, corrupt, on the make, or spineless.  But with a redemptive character arc shows Willie  that maybe, just maybe, there is some good in the world in the end. So, yes, it does have a sappy heartwarming ending, but  still, that doesn’t make it a kids movie. No film features a man dressed as santa committing buggery with an oversize woman in a public changing room while he says ‘you ain’t gonna shit right for a week’ is ever going to be a kids movie.

Nope, this is an adult  movie for sure, and with a vein of dark asocial comedy with a heart to cure even the most misanthropic in us, and whilst its damn damn funny in places, and with a brilliant central character. Willie well, he’s the kind of person who you’d buy a beer just to have him get the fuck away from you.

It’s not right - but it’s certainly not wrong to enjoy this. Deeply hilarious, downright disturbing and very very good, full of endlessly quotable dialogue and by far one of the funniest films all year.

Merry fuckin’ Christmas.


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