|Directed by:||Terry Zwigoff|
|Written by:||Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, Terry Zwigoff, Arnie Marx|
|Cast:||Billy Bob Thornton, Lauren Graham, John Ritter, Bernie Mac, Cloris Leachman, Tony Cox, Brett Kelly, Lauren Tom|
Bad Santa is a film that falls into the alternative Christmas film, like Die Hard or Lethal Weapon. It doesn’t have the typical Christmas film style but it does have the setting and the message. It’s also fuckin hilarious, this is one funny film, it’s crude, it’s rude but it knows where it’s heart lies and that helps it big time.
The plot follows Willie, an alcoholic con-man who’s always just hovering over rock bottom. Along with his partner Marcus, the two of them take on the role of Santa Claus at convience stores, then they rob the place and move onto the next city and the next store. While casing a new joint Willie meets a sweet but nutty bartender and a pathetic little fat kid and the two of them slowly but surely crack his emotionless armour and have him start caring for the Christmas holidays.
Come back, it’s not as cheesy as it sounds, the slow change from drunken asshole to drunken carer is very slow and we can see it gradually, it doesn’t come out of nowhere. And for the longest time Willie is the biggest dick on the planet, not giving a fuck about anything, least of all himself. The story is only somewhat familiar, it takes a lot of dark turns and the dickhead Santa aspect is a nice touch.
In the starring role as Willie, Billy Bob Thornton is perfect. He gets the lazt, drunken asshole routine down so well you’d swear he wasn’t even acting. The guy is just so goddamn funny, every drunken line, every slurred insults, every curse he throws at the kid it’s all hit brilliantly. It’s not just the drunk comedy that makes him so great, Thornton manages to make Willie a dick but still have him likeable in his own way and that’s a difficult move to pull off.
Willie’s partner Marcus is the nichest of niche’s, he’s a black midget. Best of all, the film knows he’s a black midget and plays that to their advantage, between Willie’s height jokes, the vent crawling and his own constant use of ‘fuck’, it all comes together to make perhaps the funniest damn character in this film, the physical comedy is great but it’s his lines that makes him so funny, he ranges from trying to keep Willie out of trouble and insulting him every chance he gets and the two mix amazingly.
The Kid (as he’s referred to for most of the film) puts in an odd but good-natured performance. Not a lot is known about him, he’s possibly retarded, he’s far too trusting and he doesn’t know how to defend himself from the constant bullying. And yet somehow despite having the charecteristics of an annoying kid he was never annoying, he actually was great in his own way. I wouldn’t say his time with Willie made him a better person but he learns some things that every kid should.
And rounding out the cast is Lauren Graham as Sue, the bartender. She didn’t have a lot to do but her love of the holidays was sweet, as was her santa fetish in the weirdest possible way. Most of all though she was hot, damn.
The humour in this film works to a great extent, Willie’s drunken antics - especially in the beginning where he didn’t give a fuck - were always great, the ’fuck’ riddled insults were always crude but brilliantly so. The physical comedy worked really damn well, the boxing scene in particular killed me it was just so brilliantly done. There was even some unconventional humour, like the kid cutting his hand or the scene near the end with the cops and the kids watching. I don’t want to say too much, you just have to watch the film yourself.
Of course being a Christmas film it does have it’s heart in the right place, even if it takes it’s time finding the right place. There isn’t a message that’s shoved down your throats, it’s just saying that everyone needs someone at Christmas, even the most bitter, jaded, downright asshole of people. Willie’s arc is a believable one even with it being done to death by countless other films and TV shows.
Any complaints, not really, the film moved at a good pace for what it needed. I do wish Sue had more to do - and less clothes to wear. My only minor point is that out of nowhere Marcus has a change of character, points to the filmmakers they explain it right away and it makes sense but right at the start you’re confused as to what happened.
Overall, it’s a damn good film, Thornton is perfect, the humour works incredible well, it’s hilarious while still being heartfelt. Very much recommended and if you don’t fancy at least watch the boxing scene on youtube because that shit is insane.