The International Writers Magazine:Review of Bad Santa 2003
Directed by: Terry Zwigoff
Writers: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Brett Murphy,
Bernie Mac, Lauren Graham, John Ritter
Length: 91 minutes
It has come to that
time of year again, 'tis the season to be drunk. Trust America to give
us Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) as a mean spirited alcoholic whos
been robbing shopping malls, under cover as Mr. Christmas himself, Santa
Claus. Accompanying Willie in this all out robbing spree is little
person Marcus (Tony Cox), an elf with attitude. Every Christmas
Eve they score big and every year Willie is totally broke again having
drunk every last dollar.
As years pass, Willie begins to loose his grip, he shows up drunk at
the grotto and he arouses the suspicions of the Mall manager, played
by John Ritter (in his last role.) Interest aroused, the "Mall"
security guy (Bernie Mac) gets in their way. He discovers the truth
about them, but doesn't give them away, instead he demands half their
takings. But this doesnt go too well for him as he crosses the
wrong elf - the one with the evil girlfriend.
in the true spirit of Christmas (and of course Hollywood) two unexpected
guests make an appearance that will turn things around. First Thermun
Mermun (Brett Murphy) the innocent but oh so irritating obese child
who believes Willie is the real Father Christmas. Secondly a bar
lady (Lauren Graham), who has a thing for men in Santa outfits and
falls (somewhat inexplicably) for reprobate Willie himself.
These two individuals
have an insightful affect on Willie and with this they help him find
a way to some kind of salvation. Willie isn't past saving, but it's
an uphill struggle. Look out for the scene when Willie tries to teach
the kid to box.
Whats good about this film?
The whole concept is brilliant, its good not to see a cheesy American
Christmas movie. It doesn't even have a happy ending, well not very
happy anyway. Finally a Christmas movie for cyncial teenagers instead
of the normally "family films" you always get.
There are a few good laughs in the film and Billy Bob Thornton and the
rest of the stars put in an excellent performances.
Whats wrong with this film?
The story is just so predicable and even though there are a few laughs,
for a 90-minute film it doesnt hold your attention and I found
myself bored in some places. Even though the concept was good, it needed
a stronger storyline to go with it. Even a swearing, fornicating, drunk
Santa gets boring after a while.
© Rebecca Francis
Overall I think Bad Santa was patchy with only a few laughs throughout
the whole thing.
It will appeal to the teenage audience, its definitely not for
the youngsters, it would kill their Christmas sprit. (Take them to Polar
The average Scrooge in the world would like this film, anyone who is
already fed up of Christmas before it evens get to December.
Now on general release in the UK December 2004
Rebecca Francis is studying Media at Portsmouth University
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