When we started this project I thought it would be strange watching Christmas movies outside of December. However, Bad Santa isn’t what I would call a “holiday classic.” It certainly doesn’t fill me with Christmas spirit or any of the warm fuzzy feelings associated with the season.
That’s not to say that it isn’t wickedly funny. While this movie isn’t exactly my cup of tea, there are some genuinely laugh out loud moments, mostly when Billy Bob Thornton is verbally abusing the kids for whom he is meant to be playing jolly old St. Nick. He’s reminiscent of the department store Santa in A Christmas Story, only a thousand times worse at his job.
While I didn’t like this movie at all when I first saw it, it’s much better than I remembered. It’s still jarring to watch a “Christmas” movie that throws around f-bombs like confetti, and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to Lorelai Gilmore being sexually attracted to Santa Claus. But this movie is pretty funny, and actually has a happy ending– twisted, but happy.
This film is not your average Christmas movie. It’s quite depressing for most of the film. Billy Bob Thornton is completely unlikable as the constantly drunk and crude Willy. You spend most of the film really despising his character, although he redeems himself somewhat by the end, the majority of the movie you really don’t like him. Bad Santa is far less uplifting than your regular Christmas film. It’s not what people want around the holidays. You want to be happy and feel good, but this movie doesn’t really do that.
That doesn’t mean this movie is bad. Thornton plays the role of professional jerk/department store Santa well. He is very good in this film. Most of the laughs come from his crude interactions with kids and their parents. Thornton plays Willy a department store Santa who every Christmas gets a job as Santa and robs it on Christmas Eve with his midget partner, Marcus (Tony Cox).
Along the way, Thornton attracts an overweight young boy (Brett Kelly). The kid is pretty pathetic and has a terrible life. He is constantly bullied and is being raised by his grandmother because his dad is in jail. He is such a sorry figure, even Thornton’s despicable character can’t even take advantage of him. The child acts like Willy really is Santa and is perpetually happy, despite his obviously crappy life. Thornton follows him home with the intention of robbing his home but can’t bring himself to burgle such a sorry boy. Brett Kelly is really good as the young boy (his actual name is only mentioned once, I won’t ruin it here but that scene is one of the films highlights).
Eventually, the child helps Thornton become a better man, and Thornton helps the boy become a bit tougher.
This film is good, it’s actually really funny in parts. It’s just not what I want in a Christmas film. I want it to be uplifting and make me feel good. This film does neither of those things. It’s somewhat depressing and not what I want that time of year.