Tuesday, December 6, 2016

25 Days of Christmas: BAD SANTA

Welcome to Day 6 of our 25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS series, where we will be taking a look at holiday classics each day in the lead up to Christmas. Today, I'll be reviewing the 2003 R-rated comedy, BAD SANTA.

People tend to forget that this raunchy, extreme, over-the-top comedy was nominated for a Golden Globe. However, when you rewatch Billy Bob Thornton’s incredible performance as Willie, you immediately understand why.

Bad Santa tells the story of a washed up mall Santa named Willie and his sidekick dwarf...midget...small elf, Marcus. This film confirms every parent’s worst fears around the holiday season as their precious child sits on the lap of a stranger. Willie and Marcus are criminals who make their living stealing from the malls they infiltrate in red suits and puffy hats. When Bad Santa meets an odd, but good-hearted boy, his outlook on life begins to change.

Writing about this film in a way that won’t be offensive is extremely difficult.

Let’s talk about Billy Bob Thornton. Before starting onset in Bad Santa, Thornton had just finished the press junket for the Oscar-winning film, Monster’s Ball. Thornton brought his gravitas and his experience to Bad Santa and promptly used it to f*** with the viewing audience.

This is an extremely inappropriate, NSFW film. For reference, the F-word is dropped 170 times over the course of 90 minutes (with around 300 obscenities total ending up in the total runtime). A running Santa-fetish joke, epitomized in Lauren Graham’s Sue -- my favorite character of the movie -- is beat into the ground and into the audience’s mind. The Kid, Santa’s new friend, is obviously not right in the head, a condition that is lampooned throughout the course of the film. Rape jokes, racial slurs. . . My God, this movie is horrible.

And I sat there on my couch and laughed loudly enough to annoy my usually-chill neighbors.

The premise of Bad Santa is utterly ridiculous. The humor takes inappropriate and then decides that that isn’t far enough. If a joke doesn’t hit you the wrong way in this movie then I am convinced that you have no soul. At the same time, if you can’t get drunk and laugh your head off to this classic of holiday cinema, then I am convinced you have no sense of humor.

I rewatched Bad Santa on the heels of watching Bad Santa 2. The notable thing about Bad Santa (and the notable thing missing from its sequel), past the dick jokes and the pratfalls, is the emotional depth. In the most vulgar way possible, Thornton delivers a character transformation that is truly heartwarming.

Of the R-rated holiday films, there are good entries and there are bad. Later this month I get to review one of the bad ones. However, if you’ve never experienced Bad Santa, then I encourage you to pour the spiked egg nog, settle in with some friends, and prepare to be entertained.

Jonathan’s Score: 6.5/10

Be sure to stay tuned throughout the rest of the month! We're posting a new Christmas review every day, both old and new! Check back to see what movie we'll have you singing carols next!

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