Bad Santa Review
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The stores have been selling Christmas trees for months now. Mom has pulled out her collection of Burl Ives CDs. And, from time to time, white flaky stuff has been seen falling from the sky. I guess that means that the holiday season is (almost) upon us again. And if Mom can listen to Burl Ives, it’s safe to pull out the Christmas movies, right?

Bad Santa isn’t your typical holiday feel-good movie—as you might have figured out from the title…or from the fact that it stars Billy Bob Thornton, who’s a far cry from Bing Crosby. It tells the story of two con-men—Willy (Thornton) and Marcus (Tony Cox). Each year, they get themselves a gig as Santa and his elf at a big department store in a mall. Each year, Willie spends most of the gig drunk, cursing out kids and occasionally wetting himself. And, each year, on the last night of their gig, they break into the store’s safe and run off with more than enough money to get by until next Christmas.

This year, they’re in Phoenix, under the supervision of Bob Chipeska (John Ritter), who doesn’t exactly trust Willie—so he puts the security guard, Gin (Bernie Mac), in charge of keeping an eye on the pair. Meanwhile, Santa and his elf go about their business. Marcus studies the store’s security system while Willie spends his breaks hooking up with women in the Big and Tall department. But then The Kid (Brett Kelly) shows up. The Kid (whose name is actually Thurman Murman) is the lonely fat kid in town. He shows up one day to talk to Santa, and he just latches on. Before Willie knows it, he’s setting up house with the kid and his clueless, sandwich-making grandma in their nice big suburban home (explaining that Mrs. Santa caught him with her sister and threw him out, so he needs a place to crash for a while). Everything seems to be working out—until Gin does his homework and manages to discover the true identities of Santa and his elf.

Again, let me warn you that Bad Santa is not your typical sappy Christmas movie—and Willie isn’t your typical Santa. As he’ll happily—and drunkenly—explain, he’s a “eating, drinking, sh*#ing, f#*&ing Santa.” But that’s actually what makes Bad Santa wickedly entertaining. If you’re sick of all the Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All Christmas movies that keep coming out, you’ll love this one. It’s seriously crude and laugh-out-loud funny—though you’ll feel ashamed of yourself for laughing because it’s just so…bad. The highlight of the movie is Brett Kelly as Thurman. I have no idea how that poor child’s parents allowed him to hang out with Billy Bob Thornton all day, but the result is hilarious (and I look forward to seeing him again this holiday season in Unaccompanied Minors).

Sure, I do love Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas,” but sometimes it’s just a bit…much. This foul-mouthed, offbeat comedy isn’t a family comedy—nor is it destined to become Mom’s favorite Christmas movie—but it’s a pretty good way to unwind when the whole Christmas thing gets to be too much to handle. When that happens, pour yourself a little Christmas Spirit and pop Bad Santa in the DVD player, and you’ll feel much better.

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